The Pueblo D60 embraces computer science and the encoding curriculum

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Pueblo D70 teacher awarded state recognition:Pueblo D70 teacher wins 2022 National History Day Colorado Teacher of the Year Award

To spread awareness about the opportunities in the tech industry, elementary school students at ten elementary schools within the district have Computer Science Pilot programs that integrate a computer science fundamentals curriculum through code.org along with robotics and digital citizenship education.

Pueblo D60 schools employing the CS Pilot program include Baca Elementary, Bradford Elementary, Columbian Elementary, Franklin School of Innovation, Haaf Elementary, Heritage Elementary, Irving Elementary, Morton Elementary, Park View Elementary and Sunset Park Elementary.

“Kids start to just move a sprite character on the screen and they move from Point A to Point B. They start learning things about repeating loops and ‘How do I make my script, my program, more efficient? If A happens, then what will B look like? What will C look like?’”

Story Highlights

  • In 2021, Colorado ranked 4th nationally in new tech jobs added, according to a 2021 Cyberstates report compiled by the Computing Technology Industry Association. At Pueblo D60 schools, students are setting the building blocks for learning coding and computer science as early as kindergarten.

  • “We have over 11,000 tech industries and tens of thousands of job openings,” said Paula Herraez, 21st-century skills coach for Pueblo D60. “Right now, we just are bringing in a lot of people from different places. I think we have like maybe over just 1,000 computer science majors within our state.”

Bessemer Academy, Highland Park Elementary STEM Magnet School, Fountain International Magnet School and South Park Elementary School also teach coding, but utilize other resources, Herraez said.

By middle school, students at each middle school in Pueblo D60 are introduced to more advanced coding concepts, basics of app design, game design, web design and more through code.org’s Computer Science Discoveries curriculum.

The CS Discoveries curriculum is taught at Goodnight K-8, Heaton Middle School,  Pueblo Academy of Arts and Roncali STEM Academy. Corwin International Magnet School and the Risley International Academy of Innovation offer coding education through other resources, Herraez said. Coding curriculum bolstered by Google Partnership

Jerri Garcia, design technology teacher at Corwin International Magnet School, started out as a physical education teacher but has been teaching design for the past 12 years. “I got my endorsement to teach technology because I really enjoy it,” Garcia said “It’s something that the kids can have and experience.”

In her middle school design courses, students learn everything from 3D printing, coding animations, designing hypothetical social media pages and using social media responsibly.  “We have been doing coding for at least five years,” Garcia said. “Before COVID, we’ve had sponsors come into the classroom and help us with that. If you look at coding sometimes, you look at it and … it’s overwhelming. But there’s great programs out there that kind of help you piece it all together.”

Pueblo D60 was able to make a connection with Google with help from a former Pueblo D60 alum, Google Cloud North American Training Lead Christian Michael. Garcia’s class was visited by Emilia Paz Ojeda, a software engineer for Google. Paz Ojeda taught students how to create an animated Google Doodle through coding. “Next year, we will continue to partner with them… We are just beyond the moon excited about this partnership,” Herraez said. “They really just embraced our community and our teachers and gave up part of their busy workdays to spend time with our kids and that really meant a lot to us.”

“I think we had 70 different Ignite Talks where we had live Googlers in a virtual classroom meeting different schools all over the city and kids were able to ask questions and learn more about a day in the life of a Googler, what exactly they do,” Herraez said.  In December 2021, Corwin, along with other schools districtwide participated in the annual Hour of Code Event remotely. Unlike previous years, students were able to connect with Google employees through virtual “Ignite Talks.”