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U-46 Middle Schoolers Learn Fundamentals of Coding

Nov. 18, 2019

Students from Larsen and Tefft Middle Schools have spent the past nine weeks learning the fundamentals of coding through the Capital One Coders program. The after-school program is an initiative led by the company to teach students introductory computer science skills, cultivating their interest in technology and exposing them to possible careers. 

This program, established in 2014, spans 11 regions across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. This is the first year it has been offered to U-46 students.

The 10-week program started in September and will end in mid-November. Once a week, technologists from Capital One visit the middle schools to provide 90 minutes of instruction on software and app development. Students work with Capital One volunteers to develop several computer and mobile applications as they learn the fundamental groundwork for coding.

“Seeing the progression of the kids during the ten weeks is the most exciting part,” said Jason Clark, Capital One Software Engineer and School Lead for the Coders program. “Some of the students start with no knowledge of software development and at the end of ten weeks, they walk away able to design and code their own apps.”

Thomas Burau, Larsen Middle School teacher and program sponsor, said that students and Capital One volunteers have formed a special bond during the program. 

“The students know they can go to the volunteers for more than just questions related to coding,” said Burau. “They look up to the volunteers as role models and see them as mentors who can provide guidance on possible career pathways to explore.” 

During the final weeks of the program, the 42 U-46 students will design and build their own mobile application, which they will be able to share with their friends and family. The program will close out with a special December evening event at the Capital One offices in Rolling Meadows where students will present their apps to their families and Capital One staff.

“My favorite part of the program has been creating our own app, “said Tefft Middle School 7th grader Brittany Escobar. “We created a game called Haunted Seekers where you have to find objects around a room like I Spy. I’m definitely excited to share our app with others and show what we created.”

Capital One plans to return to Larsen and Tefft Middle School next semester to offer the program again. “Continuing to expose students to technology and coding is what this program is all about, and we are excited to bring back the program for a new group of students in the spring,” said Clark.

Coding and computer science classes are currently offered as electives courses for high school students and through special classes and after-school programs for elementary, middle, and high school students across U-46. The District is planning on adding additional coding classes aligned with the Educational Pathways initiative via the proposed Information Technology Pathway.

“We are grateful to this Capital One for offering this fantastic opportunity for our middle school students,” said Lela Majstorovic, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education, Instruction and Equity. “This is another way for our students to apply what they’re learning in school while also exploring a possible career in computer science.”