Rural Missouri to get boost in tech education

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FAYETTE - Students in 15 rural Missouri school districts will have the opportunity to learn computer coding thanks to an initiative called Code Missouri.

The new initiative by a California company is called Code Missouri. It's designed to close the computer science gap between rural and urban schools. The company, CodeHS, will provide the districts with its program, as well as professional development training for teachers, a computer science curriculum pathway and ongoing support. All of this will be provided for free.

Fayette High School was chosen as the program’s pilot, and students there are currently enrolled in the course. They began with simple exercises, like moving a cartoon dog around a screen. The class will culminate with the students developing their own apps.

Fayette High School sophomore Grant Himmelmann said learning to code will be a valuable skill regardless of which career path he takes.

“It’s challenging at times, but I’ve enjoyed it and it’ll really help me out,” Himmelmann said.

Only 14 percent of Missouri schools offered AP Computer Science courses in 2015-16, according to a CodeHS press release.

“The big idea with Code Missouri is, right now, most rural schools aren’t teaching computer science,” CodeHS CEO and co-founder Jeremy Keeshin said.

CodeHS announced the Code Missouri initiative at the 2017 CSforAll Summit in St. Louis.

CodeHS’s work is based on the belief that, in a technology driven world, coding is a foundational skill that every student should get a chance to learn, regardless of their zip code, according to its website.  

Himmelmann said he’s happy his school has been chosen for the opportunity, especially given its size.

“It is really neat to get to experience the best stuff they have to offer,” Himmelman said.

Schools can apply online for the program through Dec. 6 at CodeMissouri.com.

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