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Coding for Elementary School Student in San Ignacio

Jul 19, 2023

Coding for Elementary School Student in San Ignacio

Coding or computer programming is the skill utilized to tell a machine which actions to perform and how to complete a task. In San Ignacio, a group of primary school students is spending the summer learning how to code. They have been sacrificing time away from their electronic devices at home and playing with friends in their neighborhoods to learn computer programming, a skill that was in the past reserved for tertiary level students. News Five’s Paul Lopez has the story.

Paul Lopez, Reporting

Back in March, the Government of Belize launched the Teodoso Ochoa Digital Connect Center in San Ignacio. Since then, the center has been serving the community in numerous ways. During the summer break, programs have been organized for children, including sporting activities, remedial reading classes, arts and craft and coding. This group of primary school students has spent the last three weeks learning computer programming.

Veeraj Dhaliwal

Veeraj Dhaliwal, Coding Student

“I rather be here because here I can create my own games, adding sound effects and background. When I am playing on my tablet, I am doing things, or playing games that other people made. But here I get to use my imagination and create my own games.”

Judy Bautista is the coding instructor here at the digital connect center. She explained that through these hands-on lessons, her students are learning to develop their own software. Most of them began the class three weeks ago with little to no knowledge about coding.

Judy Bautista

Judy Bautista, Coding Instructor

“Just as how you see mine craft games, different apps on YouTube and different software they are developing, students are practicing this skill, they actually understand how it works behind the scenes. So, instead of just playing at home with their tablet, playing mine craft, now they are building, creating their own games, they are creating their own sprites, adding animations, behaviors, background, location color and they are interactive.”

Natalia Montes

Natalia Montes, Coding Student

“This is sprites, not the sprites you drink. It is a character in a game or animation that moves and behaves in like a game like Pac-Man, Mario, like you see that when you are offline, the dinosaur, this is sprites. It could be an object an animal or a person. My objective is, like as you can see it is an aquarium and all of these are like the pieces of code. If you see here these are the pieces of code which is Java language and when you press run it shows like this.”

Natalia Montes and Veeraj Dhaliwal were able to demonstrate the lessons they have learned over the last three weeks. Montes shared how she thinks these skills can be applied to real world scenarios.

Natalia Montes

“You see those Teslas, like the electrical cars, those are used with codes. Those codes make the cars able to move and you can speak and the car will automatically do it for you. I think it is like good, because I could be my own boss and make my own company.”

Judy Bautista

“They do learn how to use this very fast. When they came here on day one they did not know much and now they are at lesson ten. They know how to use the coding blocks. They know how to create sprites. They know how to debug and we learn this in sixth form. It is exciting because I think this is a first of its kind here in San Ignacio or in Cayo District. I am not sure if there are any other coding instructions happening here in Belize.”

When the day is over, the entire class gathers to review the challenges faced and the lessons learned during class time. Instructor Bautista concludes her class with a little pep talk to her students.

Lindy

Lindy, Coding Student

“Today, I learnt how to pull back the robot and collecting them. That was easy and I liked that part. It was kind of challenging but I tried my best to complete it all.”

Judy Bautista

“How many of you found challenges today? Did you give up? We said what? We only fail if we do not try.”

Reporting of News Five, I am Paul Lopez.