Pueblo D60 embraces computer and coding program

Pueblo School District 60 is on a mission to fill the many jobs in Colorado’s tech industry with local students.

In 2021, Colorado ranked 4th nationally for new added tech jobs, according to a Cyberstates 2021 report compiled by the Computing Technology Industry Association. In Pueblo D60 schools, students lay the foundations for learning coding and computers from kindergarten.

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“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’re just bringing a lot of people from different places. I think we have maybe over 1,000 computer science graduates in our state.”

To publicize the opportunities of the technology industry, elementary school students at ten elementary schools in the district have pilot computer science programs that integrate a foundational computer science curriculum through code.org as well as education. robotics and digital citizenship.

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

Pueblo D60 schools using 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.

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

In middle school, students at each Pueblo D60 middle school are introduced to more advanced coding concepts, the basics of app design, game design, website design, and more through the Computer Science program. Discoveries from code.org.

The CS Discoveries program is taught at Goodnight K-8, Heaton Middle School, Pueblo Academy of Arts, and Roncali STEM Academy. The Corwin International Magnet School and the Risley International Academy of Innovation offer coding training through other resources, Herraez said.

Coding program strengthened by the Google partnership

Jerri Garcia, professor of design technology at Corwin International Magnet School, started out as a physical education teacher, but has been teaching design for 12 years.

“I got my approval to teach technology because I really like it,” Garcia said. “It is something that children can have and experience.”

In her college design classes, students learn everything from 3D printing, coding animations, designing hypothetical social media pages, and using social media responsibly.

“We’ve been coding for at least five years,” Garcia said. “Before COVID, we had sponsors who came into the classroom and helped us with that. If you look at the coding sometimes, you look at it and… it’s overwhelming. But there are some great programs out there. that help you put it all together. “

In December 2021, Corwin, along with other schools in the district, participated remotely in the annual Hour of Code event. Unlike in previous years, students were able to connect with Google employees through virtual “Talks Ignites”.

“I think we had 70 different Ignite chats where we had live Googlers in a virtual classroom meeting different schools all over town and the kids got to ask questions and learn about a day in the life. of a Googler, what exactly they do, “said Herrez.

Pueblo D60 was able to establish a connection with Google with the help of a former Pueblo D60 alumnus, Google Cloud North American Training Lead Christian Michael. Garcia’s class was visited by Emilia Paz Ojeda, software engineer for Google. Paz Ojeda taught students 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 hugged our community and our teachers and gave up some of their busy workdays to spend time with our kids and that really meant a lot to us.”

Design teacher Jerri Garcia, left, watches seventh-grader Calvin Merrill work on a coding project at Corwin International Magnet School on January 6.

Pueblo Chieftain reporter James Bartolo can be reached by email at [email protected]

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