Classroom Coding: A Creative Pathway for Dana


Three friends, Aiden Bijelic, Robbie Chor, Alex Bulgarian, and Blake Spanjol

Hera Serna, Staff Writer

Dana Middle School has always offered a wide variety of electives to the students. Whether you want to be in an art class or a technological one, the options are infinite. Dana offers their students electives like Leadership, Video Productions, Band, Journalism, Art, Advanced Art, Technology, and so much more to choose.

There are many electives to choose from at our school, the coding elective, led by 6th grade STEAM Math teacher, Ms. Ito started this past fall and since then, many students have chosen this as their elective. Coding is like an instruction manual for computers. It’s what makes it possible for us to create computer softwares, apps and websites. Your browser, your operating system, the apps on your phone, Instagram, and this website, they’re all made with code.

When you first hear the name you would most likely think of a classroom where you learn how to build websites or create a game on, and it seems Ms. Ito and her students are on their way to do exactly that.

Ms. Ito’s coding classroom is a playground for focused individuals wanting to code their own way into our technological society. The coding classroom is currently working on block coding but truly hopes to learn Python one day in the future. Python is a computer programming language that is available to everyone and makes solving a computer problem almost as easy as writing out your own thoughts about the solution. It can be written once and run on almost any computer without needing to change the program. Python coding has always been a tricky subject to learn but Ms. Ito’s class is sure to get there with how focused and hardworking her classroom is.

The coding classroom students also work on projects like the milk carton projects and projects on a website called Tynker that teach the students basic block coding. During the milk carton project, student built their own monsters using juice or milk cartons. Once the students had the cartons, they students installed a mouth to make their invention have a monstrous look. Once the students finished engineering, the “monster,” they are supposed to use their block coding lessons in order to code the “monster” to move.

One of Ms. Ito’s 6th graders, Ozvaldo Alvarez said, “The last project we were working on was a sort of robot […] the project is basically supposed to teach us how to engineer and code but it also teaches us that we can make pretty much anything come alive if we put our mind to it.”

8th grader James Elmore busy at work coding.

Because the students are currently unable to code their “monster” due to the technology used to move the monsters has not yet been delivered so the students have moved to another project that has them focused on the solar system. The students had to code the planets to properly orbit around the sun on Tynker is an educational programming website aiming to teach children how to make games and programs. Instead of typing the source code, you visually drag blocks of code and snap them together. The visual design and principles are based off of games just like Hopscotch.

One of Ms. Ito’s 8th graders, James Elmore says, “We’re currently using Tynker so […]more teaching ourselves since Tynker is more of a guide then a teacher. The class is currently working on this solar system thing where we have to basically make all these planets move and orbit properly around the sun.”

Ms. Ito fully explains “Students work on lessons. We just finished a solar system program coding where they had to get planets to rotate around the Sun. Eventually, they will be working with Sphero robots and Ozobots and program mini robots using the ipads. They also are working on a milk carton monster that is going to be programmed but we haven’t gotten to that yet.” Ms. Ito continued explaining coding saying, “I felt students needed to know about coding because it’s in almost everything we use in our daily lives. I feel it’s an important 21st century skill.”

Ms. Ito also adds, “I like when the students are self motivated and go beyond the lessons or assignments I give them. I enjoy when students I see students are able to code something they were struggling with at the beginning. They are really proud of themselves.”

The classroom and teacher sound like fun and although some of the students won’t admit it they’re having fun too so it’s guarantee your going to have a great time with Ms. Ito’s elective. The classroom will code its way into your heart, like it did Dana’s.