Maple Grove Elementary students programmed and drew shapes with robots, but it wasn’t just fun and games. It is part of a revamped technology curriculum that’s meant to increase Center Grove students’ tech proficiency before they start middle school.
Students at Center Grove’s six elementary schools have studied computer science since 2021, qualifying the school district for the CS100 Award from CS is Elementary, a nationwide organization dedicated to elementary school coding and computer science education.
Center Grove was the only Indiana school district to receive the award, which was given to 160 schools across the country that committed to teaching at least 10 hours of computer science education to every student in kindergarten through fifth grade, according to a news release from CS is Elementary.
Along with programming robots, students at Center Grove elementary schools have learned computer coding through code.org. They’ve also taken part in a free online curriculum for digital citizenship, learned to measure their screen time, learned to recognize cyber bullying and be a positive member of the online community, said Amanda Moore, Center Grove’s district innovation coach.
The computer science program is not just done on desktop computers that line technology labs. Children in younger grades have placed colored mats in different orders to simulate the directions needed for coding, Moore said.
“We know that computer science affects every industry, and when students graduate, the more experience they have, the more likely they’ll find success in the career path they take,” she said. “We know every student won’t become a programmer, but it doesn’t just build programming skills, it builds awareness of computer science in industry, thinking skills and problem solving, how to see through a problem, see abstractions and draw conclusions.”
Maple Grove students have taken an enthusiasm for gaming, coding and computer science bolstered by their classes into their personal lives.
Fifth grader Hudson Purdue used his technological expertise to build a computer, he said.
“Usually a lot of coding I learn myself from scratch. I practice a lot on my own. I ended up building my own computer and I have a drone, so I’ve always been interested in new technology,” Purdue said. “I would like to build my own RC Plane, a type of (unmanned aerial vehicle). I would like to learn more about how to use a circuit board correctly so I can solder the wires to a motor with high enough power to get into the air.”
Easton Reid, also in fifth grade, said he’s using the coding skills he learned in the technology lab to create his own games.
“I play my games sometimes,” Reid said. “I think it’s super cool because it could be famous one day. I want to do more coding in the future when I get older and I want to make more games for people to play.”
“It’s a way to relax, have fun and try something new,” Conklin said. “I want to be a game designer in the future and design animation for the art of the game and the characters and make them more life-like.”
During the next few years, Center Grove administrators will look to implement computer science curriculum at Center Grove High School and the district’s two middle schools, Moore said.
“Our goal is to provide every student with access to a solid computer science education,” she said. “I think Center Grove has been known for innovation and getting this award is great, but I want to recognize a lot of schools and districts in Indiana are making really great strides in computer science and may not have known about the award. I think Indiana is a leader in the U.S. as far as computer science education, and it means great things for our students.”