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Coding program hopes to inspire younger students

Posted at 7:59 PM, Dec 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-04 21:55:35-05

MILWAUKEE — Major companies like Northwestern Mutual and Rockwell Automation are helping fund a program to cultivate and retain more local talent in the science and technology fields. But in this case, their focus is on an age that may surprise you.

Fourth graders at Forest Home Avenue School are learning a "language of the future." Local companies and teachers say starting this young, is a game-changer.

"You put one of these right there, then you tap and click," said Daron Smith, 10, who tried giving us a lesson on his computer.

"It's like learning how to hack, but in a good way though, like if there's a bug in your computer you can fix it," said Isabella Pollman, 10.

"Coding is basically when you learn to use a language that the computer reads," said their teacher, Chanel Brown.

Thanks to Sharp Literacy, this "Design Through Code" course is available to fourth and fifth graders in eight schools in Milwaukee and Waukesha. The non-profit is hoping to secure more funding to reach more kids. Why? Because by 2020, there will be more than 8.6 million jobs in the science, technology, engineering and math fields. But currently, only 16 percent of students graduate high school proficient in these subjects.

"Coding is very difficult, so introducing it to children at a younger age will make it easier and more familiar to them," Brown said. "Everything about coding and technology strengthens the child's learning process. Especially with young black and brown students, it's very important to introduce coding and technology opportunities because not only do those jobs pay really well, they also open up other opportunities to help their families and communities."

Learning the basics is already having an impact on these kids, and what they see for their future.

"I want to be able to create stuff, like new technologies and websites," Smith said.

"I'm going to go to middle school, then high school, then college, and when I get older I want to teach other kids how to code," Pollman said.

Un-coding a path to success, one young mind at a time.