DMS Students Teach Programming to Elementary Students

IMG 1903Eighth grade students from Fox Chapel Area School District's Dorseyville Middle School are sharing their interest in computer programming with elementary children this summer. The three-session classes were held at the Cooper-Siegel Library in Fox Chapel Borough and were offered to third through fifth grade students in the school district.

While reflecting on their robotics programming experiences, the three Dorseyville Middle School girls – Sanam Parwani, Annika Urban, and Ziya Xu – considered the benefits of learning programming at an earlier age. The girls approached the district's Coordinator of Educational Technology, Scott Hand, and asked if they would be able to use their district-provided iPads over the summer to teach computer programming to elementary students. The iPads were distributed to all seventh grade Dorseyville Middle School students during the 2013-2014 school year.

According to Hand, these students had already shown leadership potential and were poised to take on this challenge. "These young women were an integral part of our District's 1:1 iPad launch this past school year in the middle school and have shown incredible leadership partnering with teachers as the devices saturated the classrooms," he said. The students worked with Hand in early June planning lessons that not only taught programming skills, but also reinforced positive habits and skills such as demonstrating logical thinking, persistence, overcoming obstacles, time management, and problem solving.

The classes were taught over a three-week period and offered once a week. The elementary learners used their personal iPads or were provided with a loaner device from the district. Using the iPad App, "Hopscotch," students learned about the basics of programming and were able to create an original composition at the end of the sessions.

"This program serves as an incubator for Fox Chapel Area School District's integration of programming and computational thinking into the elementary computer curriculum," said Hand.

The program is an extension of the district's commitment to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) education and fostering young girls' exploration of these academic areas.