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Park City One Of A Few Districts Nationwide To Offer Elementary School Coding Program

Instructors in the Park City School District are excited that they are one of the only districts in the country offering a computer ‘coding’ program to elementary grades.

Mike Burton teaches coding, K-5 at Trailside Elementary, he told KPCW that it’s basically, an understanding of computer science.

“At each Elementary it’s a little different how the kids receive coding but at Trailside I’m considered a specialist, so the students come to see me once a week. We do it, in six-week blocks so right now I’m seeing Kindergarten 1st and 2nd and then in the next six weeks I’ll see 3rd 4th and 5th.”

He said it’s not just involved with computer jargon, but some basic skills.

“I guess when most people think of coding they think of syntax and parenthesis and kind of text-based code. At the elementary we focus on a lot of different things. The things that we’re seeing from it our students learning how to persevere, creating, collaborating, communicating, learning how to critically think. We teach all of those things explicitly through the program. So, we have a few different kinds of lessons that we use. We do use software programs and we use a number of those, but we also do what we call ‘unplugged’ lessons. Where the students don’t have any devices and we work on kind of coding fundamentals through activities that are not on computers.”

Burton said they are just talking in a classroom setting about a world the students are engaged in anyway at home.

“They’re understanding how technology works which is turn in the future will allow them to create that technology to basically save us from ourselves. It’s really exciting for me to see it all happen and to be one of the only school districts in the country that are offering such a program to all students in the Elementary is pretty exciting. We’re pretty lucky here in Park City to have something like that.” Burton explained that he has counterparts in the other elementary schools in the district.

Abby McNulty, director of the Park City Education Foundation, said the program has been a partnership between them and the school district.

“The Ed Foundation was able to originally seed some of the funding for the staff. That’s now taken over by Park City School District and now we’re able to support some of the interesting add-ons. The professional development for the teachers and some of the robotics that complement the coding classroom.”

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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