Benjamin middle school students are continuing their deep-dive into the exciting world of coding. Led by Middle School Science Department Chair Stephanie Oster, students are coding across their curriculum and taking home trophies in a variety of coding competitions. The program was recently mentioned in the District Administration online K-12 magazine for its game-changing impact on the Benjamin middle school.
“As a middle school science teacher, I’m always looking for ways to make life science and biology more fun, engaging, and interesting for my students. Even though I don’t have a background in computer science, I’ve been able to integrate computer coding into our science curriculum. I learned about the CoderZ League through its related curriculum. I jumped right on board and now they can’t make me quit if they tried,” Oster told District Administration magazine.
Benjamin currently has 240 students in grade 6-8 enrolled in coding classes, along with fourth and fifth grade students who are also starting to code. Oster said she gradually introduced coding to the student body by integrating it into traditional science classes.
“Our normal class would be 50 minutes, but then a couple of times a week we’d extend that to 90 minutes. When we started doing the cyber robotics coding competitions, we made it “Code Friday,” so it wound up being a weekly event. When the children asked if they could also do the coding at home, we told them to go for it. We started with 20 minutes a week, but it’s since evolved into a more consistent schedule,” Oster told DA.
Oster, with her self-deprecating sense of humor, told students when she first introduced coding that she had “no idea what I’m doing.”
“Our mantra of ‘no one codes alone’ came to be. The rule was that students had to help one another, code with one another, assess what’s going on, and figure out the best approach to solving problems. We showed them that what works for one group might not work for another group, but we also told them that if they get the code to work, they had to share it. It’s since become a huge, collaborative, organized chaos infused with energy and fun,” she said.