You’ve heard this before: we are addicted to technology. Smart phones and smart TVs are the start of it, but did you know smart refrigerators and smart toasters are available?
Of course, all of these smart devices are only as smart as the code that controls them. Not only that, but code is needed to run cash registers, airline systems, bank systems … the list goes on. Just try to think of some area in our lives that is not dependent on computer code!
According to code.org, New Jersey currently has over 20,000 available computing jobs (4 times the average demand rate.) These jobs pay better than average jobs. And these trends are consistent nationwide.
And yet, only 40% of NJ high schools offer classes in computer science. The good news: Eastern Christian has been teaching computer coding for a long time — at least since the 1980s. It’s been available since 2002 as a full block class. Last year, more than 10% of the students enrolled in Eastern Christian High School took the class. Currently, EC’s coding class teaches the computer language Python, a language that is easy to learn yet incredibly powerful. Python is currently the most popular language taught in introductory classes at U.S. universities, and EC alumni taking those classes have reported back that they are well-prepared for their college-level classes.
There is a perception that computer coding is a hard science appropriate only for especially tech-minded, but in reality it only requires some basic algebra and geometry concepts, and the ability to think logically. In the Pixar movie Ratatouille, it was said that “Anyone can cook.” At EC, our motto is “Anyone can code.”
One of the highlights of our Computer Coding class is the “Text Adventure” project. If you were an early computer gamer, you may remember games like Zork, which relied only on a good story and text descriptions of rooms. You had to solve puzzles and fight monsters by typing in commands rather than moving a digital player around a screen. (Astonishingly, these “Interactive Fiction” stories are coming back as retro-cool. You can find many online.)
To help students think logically and experience problem-solving themselves, before they code their own text adventures, the class goes on a field trip to an Escape Room. These are elaborate real world puzzles, where a team has 60 minutes to work together to solve a huge variety of logic puzzles. Students are able to take lessons learned in that room to help them create computer algorithms — the logic puzzle of how code must work in order to operate all those smart appliances.
If you’re looking for a school with a proven, successful (and fun!) computer coding class, EC is a good place to start. If you’re already a parent at Eastern Christian, talk to your children about coding. Chances are, they’re going to use it!