School News: Improving Coding and Programming Literacy

Summer 2019

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The team of 11th-grade Gulliver Preparatory students who won the 2018 Congressional App Challenge. Courtesy of Gulliver Preparatory School

Computer programmers often catch the coding bug young and then segue into exciting and lucrative careers. Unfortunately, not all school-age children have early exposure to the field. But thanks to a group of students at Gulliver Preparatory School (FL), there’s now an app for that.
 
Six 11th-grade computer-science students developed Career-Ready Coding (CR Coding)*, a free online web app and curriculum that provides programming literacy for South Florida students who are interested in computer science but lack the resources to pursue their passion. CR Coding, which came about through a desire to combine computer-science skills learned in class and in service learning, consists of both an online platform and a physical classroom component at Gulliver. Through classes such as Gulliver’s Coding Fundamentals, and community programs like Breakthrough Miami, which uses a student-teaching-student model and meets on weekends, nearly 1,000 students from underserved areas have used the platform, learning Python and Java as well as algebra and other math classes.
 
The students behind CR Coding won the Congressional App Challenge; it’s the third consecutive year Gulliver students have won the award for their district. In May, the students traveled to Capitol Hill to showcase CR Coding to members of Congress and the tech community. The group also participated in workshops and networking events with STEM advocates who oversee mentor programs with tech companies such as Apple and Google.
 
“Gulliver students are able to engage with their community by finding problems and developing real-world solutions,” says Dean Morell, Gulliver computer-science teacher and CR Coding mentor. “We also like to spread awareness about competitions like the Congressional App Challenge in order to close the gap of accessibility and opportunity in STEM fields for students in South Florida.”

*A previous version of this article included a former name of the program. 
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