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Anita Vailes’ kindergarten class at South Highlands Elementary Magnet engaged in computer programming.
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Jennifer Ash’s class with the LSUS faculty and students in the background.
Today’s world is the world of technology. However, only a fraction of students learn about computer science. Kindergarten students from South Highlands Elementary Magnet recently got the chance to learn programming thanks to a team from LSU Shreveport.
LSUS faculty Dr. Urška Cvek and Dr. Marjan Trutschl, along with computer science students Steven Burke, Ryan Hammontree and Kenneth Smith, taught the children using concepts from code.org, a national non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools and increasing participation by women and other underrepresented minorities.
The students were paired-up with a classmate. Each pair received an iPad preloaded with the Lightbot app, a programming puzzle presented as a learning game that teaches the students about the programming concepts. The Lightbot robot understands five basic commands: turn left, turn right, move forward, jump and light up a tile. By combining these commands, the children were able to program the robot to perform tasks such as walk along a well-defined path and illuminate a tile or a series of tiles in a finite number of steps. As they progressed through the puzzles, they were introduced to repetitions, or loops, where sequences of steps were combined in functions and reused throughout the puzzle in a divide-and-conquer manner.