Fourth-graders Kelsie McDowell, left, and Brook Ruiz, program a Dash robot Tuesday at Patriot Elementary during Coding Club.

When it comes to learning, a Patriot Elementary teacher wants her students to know there is nothing they can’t comprehend, even when it comes to complex topics such as coding.

Third grade teacher Olivia Herr has started Coding Club, which students can learn the basics of coding and computer science.

Herr said computer science has always interested her and now she’s excited to share her love of computers with others.

“As a third-grade teacher, I don’t have room to do that during the day so I decided to have a club where I could teach people who are actually interested in it,” she said.

The club, open to fourth through sixth graders, meets every Tuesday for an hour where they learn coding vocabulary and do activities all while learning the four pillars of Object Oriented Programming: abstraction, encapsulation, inheritance and polymorphism.

“It’s kind of like learning a new language,” Herr said.

“I want them to know they can do something like that. They can pick up the pieces, put them together and make something new out of it.”

During meetings, students learn to solve problems by using programs like Scratch, a block-based visual programming language; Osmo, durable coding blocks; and Dash, codable robots students learn to command.

“Computer science is awesome,” Herr said. “These kids have only been in this club for five or six weeks and their brains have been stretched. They’ve been challenged.”

In past years, Patriot had a technology club with about 30 students. By focusing on a specific element within the field of technology and a smaller group of about 10, Herr said it is a better place to learn.

“They choose to be here so they are interested in it and they come ready to learn,” she said.

Herr also said she is happy to see girls participate in the club.

“I love that there are girls in here,” she said. “I feel like it makes it a little less intimidating. I think a lot of them, especially the girls, would not have normally chosen this.”

As technology continues to advance, Herr said it is good to see students learn about computers and coding at a young age.

“Now that they are here, they realize how much they really love it and how easy it is to do,” she said.

“Computer science can seem really intimidating, but once you’re here and you’re doing the fun projects, you see it’s really not that bad and it’s really fun.”

Aside from learning coding lingo and understanding how to program robots, Herr wants her students to become critical thinkers and achieve whatever it is they set their minds to do.

“It doesn’t have to be in the field of computer science. I want them to know they can think critically and do hard things,” she said. “That is going to be useful throughout their whole lives.”

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