Now kids are computing in kindergarten
Now kids are computing in kindergarten Computer science teacher Sheena York, center, helps fifth grade students work on programming during their weekly computer science lesson at Marshall Elementary School in Marysville, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Now kids are computing in kindergarten
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Moving her finger over the laptop trackpad, 6-year-old Lauren Meek drags and drops a block of code to build a set of instructions. She clicks the "run" button.  And she watches as the character moves through a maze. She then pumps her fist in excitement.
"Yes! This is so easy," says Meek, a kindergartener at Marshall Elementary in Marysville. The school is north of Seattle.
This fall, most elementary school students in the Marysville School District are getting 40-minute weekly computer science lessons. It is part of their core instruction. It is part of a growing effort nationwide to expose more public school children to computer science. That includes students as early as kindergarten.
Backed by technology leaders, nonprofits and companies, schools in New York, San Francisco and other cities have committed to offering computer science to students in all grade levels. Chicago says computer science will eventually become a high school requirement.
Supporters say it's not just about learning how to code. It's also learning how computers work. They say computer science teaches kids to think logically and be creative. It exposes them to the technology that will drive their future.
"In the 21st century, computer science is just as foundational as biology, chemistry," said Hadi Partovi, founder and CEO of It's a Seattle-based national nonprofit. It works to expand access to computer science and increase participation by women and minorities.
The group is also behind a campaign to get millions of students to participate in an "Hour of Code," which takes place the second week of December.
Bringing computer science into the schools ensures that everyone has an opportunity to become digitally literate. That is according to Yasmin Kafai, a professor of learning sciences at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education.
"We're not talking about turning everybody into a computer programmer or computer scientist," said Kafai. "It's a basic literacy."
Learning computer science also opens the door to high-demand jobs. By 2020, 4.6 million of 9.2 million science, technology, engineering and math jobs will be in computing. This is according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Computer science doesn't enjoy the benefits of other disciplines, including agreed-upon standards or robust assessments to measure learning. That is according to Jeanne Century, director of Outlier Research & Evaluation at the University of Chicago's Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education.
But it's the same argument for science and math, she said. There are practical issues. Those issues include more jobs requiring computer science. "Just as important is the fact that computing is everywhere in our lives. It's pervasive all around us. We need to understand computing."
One of the challenges is finding enough well-prepared teachers. Among other efforts, an initiative of the National Science Foundation is seeking to have 10,000 well-trained computer science teachers in thousands of high schools.
Currently, computer science is taught in about one out of four high schools nationwide. There are even fewer in lower middle and elementary school grades. And only 27 states allow a computer science course to be counted toward graduation requirements in math or science. This is according to
But there's been a surge in interest in recent years. In 2015, nearly 49,000 students took the Advanced Placement exam in computer science. This was a 25 percent increase from the previous year.
"Colleges are saying, 'There's an incredible demand. We'd like to see more students become better prepared when they get here'," said Terry Redican, vice president of Advanced Placement program at The College Board.
A new AP computer science principles course debuts next fall. That exam is focused on real-world applications and aimed at increasing representation among women and underrepresented minorities.
At Marshall Elementary, more than half the students are low-income. Principal Kelly Sheward embraces computer science. "It's access that we didn't previously have." And it ensures the kids will be as prepared as their peers for the digital future, she said.
During a recent lesson using curriculum, teacher Sheena York asks a class of fifth-graders to identify the pattern in the computer puzzle. Then they solve it using the fewest steps. She urges them to try different strategies and test their work as they go along. And she wants them to ask each other for help.
"I'm figuring this out piece by piece to see if this works," said Isiah Gibbs, 10. "That doesn't work. So I'll try something else."
In the lower grades, students may learn about algorithms, or a set of instructions. This might include the steps for a baking recipe. Older students may write programs that create a game or interactive story. Many lessons don't involve computers.  Math and other concepts are integrated into the lesson, York said.
"It's almost as important as reading and math," said fifth-grade teacher Hank Palmer.

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How can computing be made accessible to 6-year-olds?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • sethmoly-
    12/11/2015 - 11:59 a.m.

    this topic is about kinder gardeners learning computer science and how it is about how they tick and not the learning

    CTQ: i think that they made it accessible through setting up parental controls

  • liamloly-
    12/11/2015 - 12:03 p.m.

    Children from kinder-garden to high school getting "Computer Science" classes all over America in 2015 and is expected to become used in most to all schools. It's important because this affects children's education. This is an effort to educate children of all ages on how to computers work, how to compute, code, and just computer literacy.

  • stormieesoly-
    12/11/2015 - 12:04 p.m.

    Kids at Marysville School District are in kindergarten and doing a 40 minute science lessons in class. A lot of people say that a computer in the 20th century is more about chemistry and others. And 27 states allow kids to have computer science and they say it could change a kids life when they get older. A comment that was said was kids should start out small and move up and many kindergarten lessons don't involve computers.
    CTQ: This can help when they get older because if they need to do something important that involves scientific calculating or research this can help them learn more about an object/person.

  • madeleine1-del
    12/11/2015 - 12:47 p.m.

    I'm glad that kids are getting used to computers, it means less phobias. :)

  • chous-wim4
    12/11/2015 - 12:54 p.m.

    Computing can be made accessible to 6 year olds by using certain curriculums and computers. The article says ," During a recent lesson using curriculum...". This tells me that there are probably certain downloadable courses that teachers can provide for their students.

  • brody2-del
    12/11/2015 - 12:56 p.m.

    hour of code

  • logan2014-Sch
    12/11/2015 - 02:34 p.m.

    This could not have happened before the 2000's because they did not have electronics like this before the 2000's. We especially dint have them in kintergarden.

  • jeremyko-Sch
    12/11/2015 - 02:38 p.m.

    this story has to have been in the 20 1st century because before then kinder gardeners didn't have weekly computer lessons.

  • jadenbi-Sch
    12/11/2015 - 02:39 p.m.

    They did not have this before 2000 because they did not think of this and they wont have pcs back then.

  • carleeso-Sch
    12/11/2015 - 02:40 p.m.

    This could only happen in the 21st century because they didn't have computers, especially for kindergarteners

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