Let’s get coding!

Cheryl Travis photos Pinedale Middle School student Ellis Kuhn holds up a micro:bit he worked on last spring as part of a coding class offered by technology teacher Cheryl Travis.

School District No. 1 receives technology grant

Leading students through the everchanging

wilderness of computer science can seem

daunting. Pinedale High School and Middle School

technology instructor Cheryl Travis trains her students

to focus on the basics: creative and critical thinking,

troubleshooting skills and “computational thinking ...

learning about the computer and how to communicate with

the computer.”

Coding is a primary means of communication in the

world of computers. Each line of code “is its own separate

command” in the construction of a specific program, Travis

explained. Once each line of code is written out, they are

combined into a chain of commands to form a completed

software program.

Coding can be complex. The software to operate a U.S.

military drone, for example, uses about 3.5 million lines

of code. All the Google apps and services use a combined

total of 2 billion lines of code.

High school and middle school students usually do

not have time in class to develop an entire new suite of

software. A few years back, the British Broadcasting

Corporation, or BBC, developed a system to teach students

the basics of coding called the “micro:bit.”

Micro:bits are “little mini-computers that can handle

lots of codes,” Travis said. They have five ports and are

about half the size of a credit card.

When micro:bits are “nested together,” they have more

capacity to code and this “allows students to go further in

their experiments,” Travis added.

A new set of micro:bits to enhance the collection already

on hand was top on Travis’ wish list. This is where her

grant-writing skills came in handy.

The Association of American Educators Foundation,

or AAEF, approved a $500 grant for Travis to purchase

a set of 28 micro:bits from the nonprofit Micro:bit

By Robert Galbreath

[email protected]

Educational Foundation.

“Micro:bits are a great way to introduce coding to

students and provide them with a way to see how it actually

works,” Travis said. “Micro:bits apply to many situations

to get experimental data.”

Students at the middle school used micro:bits last year

to write code to create “micro-pets” with LED readouts,

Travis added. At the high school, students coded sound

and light for Christmas ornaments with their micro:bits.

The AAEF offers grants to members across the nation

for projects in any academic field. As a result, the grants

are very competitive and $500 is the top amount awarded,

Travis said. With six successful grants under her belt, Travis

put her skills to use to augment items in the technology

department that fall outside the school district’s budget.

“The district does really well at funding technology,

and the grants help us with any additional funding,” Travis

said. “I’m tickled that we got the funding.”

The AAEF is a nonprofit charitable organization

that “provides teachers and leaders with opportunities,

information and funds to reform and improve the education

of America’s youth,” a press release said.


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