Cove students learn computer coding through military grant
By WENDY SLEDD
Special to the Leader-Press
Williams/Ledger Elementary student Marilyn Garcia laughed as she watched a robot on her computer screen complete the actions she programmed through computer coding. Garcia and nearly 1,500 Copperas Cove ISD students participated in the district’s annual Hour of Code event, funded by a $750,000 Department of Defense Education Activity grant awarded in 2019.
The DoDEA grant, valued at $750,000 and now in its third year of implementation, provided the funding for hundreds of Copperas Cove students to log on to a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics. Students engaged in tutorials on Code.org and Tynker to develop their coding skills.
CCISD Director of Digital Learning & Innovation Holly D. Landez said the grant makes it possible to provide rich coding and STEM resources for CCISD’s third through eighth grade students including an annual summer STEM camp and the implementation of the STEM academies at both CCISD junior high schools, each offering more than two dozen STEM courses.
“Promoting STEM and computer science instruction is one of our strategies for preparing CCISD students for future career options and success,” Landez said. “With technology changing every industry on the planet, computing knowledge has become part of a well-rounded, highly employable skill set.”
In addition to participating in the Hour of Code, Copperas Cove Junior High School was chosen from among 102 schools in the nation to receive the Computer Science Leaders Prize of $10,000 for the campus to expand computer science course offerings for students in the 2023-2024 school year.
Landez said expanding computer science course offerings ensures CCISD achieves the goal of increasing educational programs focused on innovation. Copperas Cove ISD’s strategic five-year plan through 2024 states that the district is committed to delivering educational programs and services that focus on rigor, relevance, and innovation for student success and enthusiasm.
With over seventy percent of the student population participating in the Hour of Code, S.C. Lee Junior High earned the incentive of a Sphero Mini Education Pack, which has 16 robots that students will be able to creatively code.
According to labor projections, Texas is expected to have the second-highest percentage of the nation’s future STEM job opportunities. The TEA has created a curriculum framework that includes strategies for success, differentiated STEM implementation models, research-based methods of instruction, and high-quality STEM indicators. CCISD used this framework as a guide when creating its customized STEM programs.
Dr. Misty Thomas leads the STEM effort at Copperas Cove High School where students were already engaged in hands-on learning in STEM through CCHS’ more than 30 areas of certification.
“Copperas Cove High School provides students the opportunities to solve real-world problems using scientific and engineering processes through hands-on activities,” Thomas said. “These hands-on activities prepare our students to be future-ready citizens by reinforcing the STEM fluency skills of collaboration, communication, critical thinking, innovation, and time management.”