STEM Am­bas­sadors teach cod­ing

Serve Daily - - COMMUNITY - By Lana Hiskey for Serve Daily

“Stu­dents Teach­ing Stu­dents” is a well-rec­og­nized model in higher ed­u­ca­tion; Nebo School District is im­ple­ment­ing this model and has seen great suc­cess with 80 high school stu­dents teach­ing 900 fifth-grade stu­dents cod­ing this past school year.

Nebo School District im­ple­mented the “Stu­dents Teach­ing Stu­dents” model by creat­ing a STEM Am­bas­sadors Pro­gram where high school stu­dents tak­ing Ex­plor­ing Com­puter Sci­ence classes were cho­sen by their teach­ers to visit ele­men­tary schools near them and teach cod­ing.

“The high school stu­dents have loved learn­ing a skill that they could teach to oth­ers,” said Elise Ford, a com­puter sci­ence teacher at Span­ish Fork High School. “Be­cause of the fact that they were re­quired to teach cod­ing, their level of un­der­stand­ing and depth of knowl­edge has vastly in­creased. The ele­men­tary school stu­dents were ex­cited about cod­ing and cre­ated great re­la­tion­ships with the high school stu­dents. Stu­dent en­gage­ment was at 100 per­cent every sin­gle time we showed up to teach. As a teacher of the STEM Am­bas­sadors, I loved watch­ing some of my stu­dents come out of their shell and see­ing the in­creased con­fi­dence in their abil­i­ties so­lid­i­fied that the pro­gram does more than teach stu­dents to code — it also builds con­fi­dent speak­ers, teach­ers, and lead­ers. I feel lucky to have been a part of a suc­cess­ful pro­gram.”

JoAnn Tut­tle, former CTE Di­rec­tor for Nebo School Di­rec­tor, says that the in­spi­ra­tion to start the STEM Am­bas­sador Pro­gram came from a part­ner­ship they have with In­sid­eSales.

“The owner of In­sid­eSales lives in our district and one of his kids went to one our ele­men­tary schools, and he de­cided to send some of his em­ploy­ees to teach cod­ing at the school,” Tut­tle said. “We saw how re­cep­tive and ex­cited the stu­dents at that school were; and we thought, ‘How can we ex­pose more ele­men­tary school stu­dents to th­ese op­por­tu­ni­ties?’”

Eighty high school stu­dents were in­volved in last year’s roll­out of the STEM Am­bas­sador Pro­gram and 900 fifth-grade stu­dents re­ceived eight hours of cod­ing in­struc­tion.

The STEM Am­bas­sadors spent Jan­uary learn­ing how to teach cod­ing and then in Fe­bru­ary, March and April they vis­ited ele­men­tary schools near them and taught stu­dents cur­ricu­lum from code.org.

“With less and less high school stu­dents sign­ing up for com­puter sci­ence classes each year, we de­cided some­thing needed to change,” Tut­tle said. “Ex­pos­ing th­ese ele­men­tary school stu­dents to cod­ing at a young age helps them to de­velop this ‘Can do’ at­ti­tude, so when they go to high school they will hope­fully be more likely to take th­ese es­sen­tial com­puter sci­ence classes.”

Next year Nebo School District plans to dou­ble the size of the pro­gram, giv­ing even more ele­men­tary stu­dents the op­por­tu­nity to learn cod­ing.

“I re­ally en­joyed be­ing a STEM am­bas­sador this year,” said a high school stu­dent from Salem Hills High School. “It was a great learn­ing op­por­tu­nity for me on how to be re­spon­si­ble and how to be an ex­am­ple to kids. I was able to get to know the kids and I felt I was able to make an im­pact on their lives. I hope I was able to teach the kids to love cod­ing. I am so glad I was able to be a part of this.”

Com­ments from 5th Grade Stu­dents on Learn­ing to Code: • “Fun, helps me fig­ure out for­mu­las and steps to get my pro­gram to work.” • “Chal­leng­ing but very fun, helps me learn.” • “Re­ally fun, hard, learned a lot.” • “Fun to make stuff move. Didn’t know any­thing about this be­fore we did it.” • “Helps with math. Helps with fol­low­ing direc­tions and the im­por­tance of fol­low­ing steps.” • “Was fun and en­ter­tain­ing, helped with math. Great to learn from high school stu­dents.” • “Fun learn­ing how to fig­ure out prob­lems. Worked with friends to fig­ure things out. Helps with math skills.” • “Cool cod­ing stuff. It was great to learn new things.” • “Was hard and de­mand­ing but I learned to prob­lem solve.” • “Fun, chal­leng­ing for my mind. Good to prob­lem solve.

Photo: Nebo School District

A Nebo District High School stu­dent helps an ele­men­tary stu­dent with cod­ing as part of the STEM Am­bas­sadors pro­gram.

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