The Prep students are using basic animation software that provides them with a choice of different instructions such as move front, left, right, turnaround and jump that can be arranged in sequence to bring a cat character on their computer screen to life.
And the girls are not simply learning the art of computer coding – they are developing their technology skills whilst also developing the deep thinking skills required to problem solve.
St Margaret’s Assistant Head of Primary, Trudi Edwards, said coding is fast becoming “the language of the next generation” and a working knowledge of, and ability to read and create using this language is critical.
“At St Margaret’s we are committed to preparing our students with the 21st century skills required for the future workforce. The introduction of coding as part of our early learning curriculum supports this mission,” Edwards told The Educator.
“New technical language introduced in coding lessons helps our youngest learners with their vocabulary, their mathematical understandings and develops their oral language through the collaborative discussion and requirement to listen to and follow instructions.”
Since the inception of the program, the school has seen the girls improve their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
Prep teacher, Tahlia Butler said that in their initial lesson, the girls had to click the mouse button and simultaneously move the mouse whilst looking at the screen, an action they found quite challenging but eventually mastered.
“What we’re also witnessing is the students becoming deeply involved in the learning process,” Butler said.
“They’re developing their problem solving and critical thinking skills and showing great persistence as they work through the challenge.”
Coding comes naturally to Prep student, Rosa, who described how she was able to create her own character.
“When you make your own character, you have to push the white squares, then add the paint brushes with the splashes,” she explained.
“Using the mouse is challenging because I need to move it to the right spot, but my eyes aren’t on the mouse – they are on the computer.”
Another student who was undaunted by the hi-tech program was Gia, who sees coding as “a really fun activity”.
“We have been moving the mouse with our hands to make ‘Scratch the Cat’ do flips, left and right or even upside down,” Gia said.
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Students as young as five years old are learning the basics of coding in a weekly in-class program at St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School in Ascot.