Event introduces kids to coding

As with 2020's Hour of Code event, this year’s virtual coding lessons were based on the popular video game “Minecraft: Hero's Journey.” Courtesy West Michigan Works!

West Michigan Tech Talent earlier this month hosted the {MI}Code Experience as part of a global Hour of Code event, teaching more than 2,000 West Michigan elementary students how to code.

The event began Monday, Dec. 6, during National Computer Science Week, and ended Friday, Dec. 17, as programs taught coding and introduced computer science career paths to third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students across West Michigan. Programming for this year’s students included how to create code with blocks using Minecraft: Hero’s Journey, a game with 12 new challenges that teach coding skills such as loops, debugging and functions.

{MI}Code Experience has introduced coding to nearly 10,000 students in West Michigan over the past four years and is led by 45 volunteer technology professionals. A partnership of West Michigan Works! and West Michigan Tech Talent is comprised of technology employers, educators, and workforce and economic development organizations to develop the needs of West Michigan’s current and future technology talent by encouraging and building a strong and diverse tech workforce.

“Learning to code at a young age gives students the tools to become the next generation of problem solvers, creators and innovators,” said John Rumery, IT industry council lead for West Michigan Works! “The {MI}Code Experience introduces students to coding in a fun, approachable way, while providing context for future career paths.”

Aimee Seiler, a Southwood Elementary School educator who teaches English-language learners and refugees, said {MI}Code Experience helped several students to envision themselves in the computer science field.

“The most rewarding part of the code experience was watching my students high-five each other when they learned a new skill or passed another level. We loved getting to talk with a female coder. It inspired a lot of my girls,” Seiler said. “I had one student who has never really excelled in much, but he was able to finish the coding experience in less than 25 minutes. He said it made great sense to him and is now able to see himself in job positions in the future.”

More information on the {MI}Code Experience and other WMTT initiatives is at westmichigantechtalent.com/get-involved.

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