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South Metro School District Focuses on Computer Coding

April 12, 2017 06:01 PM

Some of the fastest growing careers in the country can be found in computer programming.

And the wages are good too.

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That's part of why the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage school district is offering computer coding classes - not only in high school, but in kindergarten as well.

Burnsville senior Anna Bunce is working on computer coding, giving a computer step-by-step instructions on what to do.

Although she just started coding classes this school year, she's convinced it will be her career path.

"I'm excited to go on with college and learn more (computer) languages," Bunce said.

Across town at Gideon Pond Elementary, it's a different classroom scene.

But one with the same purpose.

"I'm looking at this maze and trying to figure out which way to get my fuzzy flurb to get to the end," 6-year-old Abigail said.

It's a district mission to focus on technology, with much of that energy directed toward getting young girls involved.

"Especially little girls, feeling empowered, feeling like this is something they can do, even if it feels hard the first time, it's just really powerful," said Lexi Rollie, a digital learning specialist with the district.

Rollie's position is a new one in the district.

Much like a phy-ed or music teacher in their study areas, her job is about making sure every student gets time studying computers.

"When we are looking at the jobs we are preparing our students for, we want our students to be competitive for these jobs, and these are really good jobs," said Rachel Gorton, an industrial technology coordinator with the district. 

Gorton said she isn't aware of another local district teaching coding to every student.

And if you ask the students, it's certainly something they're enjoying.

"Maybe I'll do it someday," 6-year-old Em Jae said when asked about working in computer coding as an adult.

The district said women who try AP Computer Science in high school are 10 times more likely to major in it in college. 

Black and Hispanic students are seven times more likely.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said in 2015, nearly 8.6 million jobs were in STEM fields - focused on science, technology, engineering and math. Jobs involving computers made up nearly 45 percent of STEM careers. 

And seven of the ten largest STEM occupations, are computer-related. 

Credits

Jessica Miles

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