To get the bird to the pig, you have to move him one space to the right, one space up, then another space to the right.
“Do you see how this is sequential? A step, a step, a step at a time?” said Maggie Prevenas, the STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — outreach coordinator at OSU-Cascades, leading a group of parents, students and educators through a lesson on the website Code.org.
Central Oregon STEM Hub hosted a computer coding workshop at the Redmond Public Library last week designed for parents who homeschool their children. If coding is the future, one parent said, she needs to know what she’s doing if she is going to pass that on to her children.
“You can have a computer work as a tool to help you solve a problem, and that’s a totally different way than students see computers. Most students see computers as a time killer,” Prevenas said.
This past school year Prevenas was based in Culver schools, helping teachers there incorporate STEM and hands-on learning in their classrooms. As part of that work she taught coding to kindergartners using Code.org lessons designed for ages 4 to 6. These beginner lessons feel like computer games — solve the puzzle, complete the maze — but they actually require problem-solving and sequencing: First do this, then do that.
She also taught the kindergartners, most of whom could not yet read, to recognize and define the words “engineer,” “experiment,” and “algorithm” (“the steps to solve a problem,” Prevenas chanted in a sing-song voice). The idea was to promote problem-solving, trial and error and persistence from an early age.
Marie Meade, of Redmond, homeschools her 12-year-old twins, Josiah and Sarah, whom she brought to the coding workshop. They both love playing on computers, but Meade wants them to learn about coding.
“I have no idea how to do this,” she said, nodding toward the laptop in front of her. Nearby, the twins raced through beginner Code.org lessons. “It’s definitely worth my time so I can learn and pass it along.”
Laura Kelton, also of Redmond, has a seventh-grader at Obsidian Middle School. He loves computer games but he beats them so quick, she said, it’s hardly worth buying them anymore. Kelton wants him to learn to code so he can design his own games, and she wants to learn with him so she can help.
It was an intimidating idea, but after 30 minutes on Code.org?
“It’s not as bad,” she said.
— Reporter: 541-617-7837,