Seventh and eighth graders write computer code for electronic games

"You can make it your own which is what I like about it. In any other school subject they tell us what to do and we do it but in this we get an outline and we get to do whatever we want." Konnor Richardson

Seventh and 8th grade students in Edith Ann Grant's Challenge class at Clinton Middle School are learning the basics of computer program coding. The idea for this lesson plan came when the school's principal, Brenda Romines asked Grant to teach a Challenge class for Gifted and Talented students.
There are many benefits to learning how to code computer programs. By learning how to code, students are using vital math skills such as algebra, order of operations, domain, range, and other functions. It is also teaching students how to problem solve.
Learning code is similar to learning a new language. Coding has its own specific rules about how and where to place letters, numbers, and punctuation so that a computer can read the text and interpret it into games, websites, and programs. Much like languages, coding comes in a variety of types.
CMS students are taught the Bootstrap coding language. Bootstrap is a basic and lower level language of programming which makes it a good starting point for the students to work with. "They can go back and look in their notebooks at the design recipes that they have written previously and they can see similarities so that they can troubleshoot and figure it out themselves," Grant said.
Grant's students are taught to use their coding knowledge to create computer games that can be played online. The games are created on a website called wescheme.org which helps teach students how to code using Bootstrap.
"They have a basic template. They choose everything. They create the scenario, the possibilities are endless. There's lots of different way that they can make the characters move. They can make them leap, there's a way that they can throw the projectiles back at the danger," Grant said. Not only does coding involve logic, but there is room for creativity as well.
Eighth grader Konnor Richardson is one of Grant' s students. He enjoyed the creative liberty that coding allowed him to have, "You can make it your own which is what I like about it. In any other school subject they tell us what to do and we do it but in this we get an outline and we get to do whatever we want."
Richardson worked together with fellow 8th grader Sean Bell to create a game that was inspired by Black Friday. In their game the player gets to play as a Black Friday shopper by collecting televisions and shooting down oncoming shopping carts to score points.
Grant explained why she chose to assign the game project, "At this age they question everything that we try to teach them so I have learned over the years that if I can show kids the reason behind why they're learning something and the importance of it then most of the time they'll hang in there no matter how tough it is. They'll problem solve or do whatever it takes to figure something out. I thought this was a great way to push our GT kids"
Right now Grant hopes that school District 56 will help her find a way to continue teaching students how to code. She is willing to expand her own knowledge of coding so that she can best teach her students.
"We'll see what they do with it but I don't know for sure," Grant commented, "If I could do this I would even go and help someone over at the high school learn it and get it rolling because there are other courses that could build on this one."

The games that Grant's students made can be played at the following links:
http://www.wescheme.org/view?publicId=1F5Y9EkGzN
• by Sydney Raber and Aubrie Hartley
http://www.wescheme.org/view?publicId=itWizKkLdR
• by Emma Peoples and Gray Walsh
http://www.wescheme.org/view?publicId=uHkJXb6sx9
• by Jonathan Braswell and Ella Cooper
http://www.wescheme.org/view?publicId=2wXA090hjf
• by Kayleigh Hollingsworth and Wyatt McWatters
http://www.wescheme.org/view?publicId=FNAf0eX1X7
• by Jaidyn O'Neil and Madison Hoke
http://www.wescheme.org/view?publicId=BAbcJLU4hY
by Sean Bell and Konnor Richardson

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