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Founders of Coding Academy, Mable Danh, at left, and Jacob Uchitel are shown introducing a third-grade class to coding by using a grid activity to illustrate how programming works. Danh and Uchitel are sophomores at Bob Jones High School. CONTRIBUTED

Danh, Uchitel found Coding Academy to teach youngsters

MADISON – Two ingenious students at Bob Jones High School have founded a club to extend an understanding of software programming to students in early elementary grades.

Mable Danh and Jacob Uchitel, sophomores at Bob Jones, are organizing the Coding Academy, a club with the strong belief that coding plays a vital impact in child development.

Danh and Uchitel are teaching third- and fourth-graders how to code. They use a different curriculum for each grade. “We create our lesson plans based on the Code.Org curriculum, but we have modified it to move at a fitting pace and added hands-on activities,” Uchitel said.

“I’ve always been fascinated in the field of biotechnology: the perfect combination of biology and computer science,” Danh said. “I wanted to project my passion into a project, but I didn’t know how to.”

Danh thought about other clubs in which she participates. She recalled “Beast Academy, where I taught kids advanced math. I decided to share my knowledge with kids on what I’m interested in.”

“In addition, my knowledge in coding has much more room to expand. This experience would not only be a fun challenge for the kids but also a challenge for me,” Danh said.

Uchitel always has loved teaching students. He realized that coding “is a good skill to know in life, so I wanted to teach the kids coding in a fun and educational way.”

Training for this skill started in middle school for Danh with mini-games. She used graphical coding, which is programming with blocks instead of typing individual codes.

“During my summer of freshman year, I taught myself bits and pieces on how to code using HTML and CSS. Using that experience, I was able to code the Coding Academy website myself,” Danh said.

Currently at Bob Jones, Danh is enrolled in advanced-placement computer science principles and is learning an additional programming language, Python. “In this class, I write many programming codes for various activities. Some may be as simple as coding a Celsius to Fahrenheit converter,” Danh said.

Uchitel also completed numerous classes for coding in middle school. He has coded his own programs with his father, who is a computer programmer himself.

By year-end, students in the Coding Academy will know the steps to code their own project. “Throughout the year, they will perform various exercises to practice skills they have learned in class. We’ll help them apply it to create a project of their choice,” Danh said.

Uchitel is confident that any Coding Academy student will understand the technology to code a full program on their own. “They will also understand how coding works and how to find/fix errors in a program, along with other (tasks) such as conditionals, loops and functions,” Uchitel said.

For information about curriculum, email codingacademybjhs@gmail.com or visit coding-academy-about-us.codingacademybj.repl.co.

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