New Marion County coding academy offers educational opportunities for elementary students

Through a new educational program known as CodeForce, Marion County elementary students are gaining game, app and web development skills while having fun. The program, which is the brainchild and passion project of Chris Porter, a local web designer and developer, is presented by local volunteers and is hosted weekly at the Marion County Public Library.

Through the CodeForce curriculum, students create games in Roblox, Minecraft and Scratch while learning skills in Javascript, HTML/CSS, Python, Unity, Lua and more. The program’s first day of class took place earlier this month, with 10 students enrolled in the program’s first 4-week session.

CodeForce is designed for children ages 8 to 12.

“The development of CodeForce came out of a simple desire to pass on the knowledge I’ve gained in coding over the years to a new generation of students,” Porter said. “Even if these kids don’t go on to pursue a career in programming, the ability to think logically and the presence of mind they can gain from learning these skills can help them in so many ways.”

CodeForce offers several tiers of learning, which includes Sidekick, Agent, Specialist, Hero and Super Hero levels. These tiers of learning range from basic programming concepts such as conditionals, loops, functions and variables to complex data structures in Python and web development concepts. By the time students enter the Super Hero tier, they will be building a web page with clean style and layout;

embedding Javascript programs within an existing web page; editing the page appearance through and CSS and more.

In addition to utilizing the Marion County Public Library, CodeForce also receives assistance from Children’s Librarian Rachael Lynch during class sessions.

“I am so excited to be able to assist in this innovative program,” Lynch said. “We’re always looking for community partners to engage with and educate local youth and CodeForce is a perfect facilitator of this mission.”

CodeForce receives support from sponsors and donors. In December, the program received an approximately $2,000 donation from Elizabethtown-based nonprofit Give 270, which covered the cost of 10 laptops, 10 mice and USB drives.

“When Chris mentioned this program and the potential it had to cultivate web developers in Marion County, we were on board to help make it happen,” said Kenny Rambo, co-founder of Give 270. “This is a perfect example of what our nonprofit is all about - connecting passionate people with resources to do awesome things.”

Due to the overwhelming response of the first session and the generous support of a new sponsor, C3 Consulting, an additional 10 spots have been added for the next session. Porter is also working with Marion County Schools to see how the curriculum can be incorporated into the system’s after-school program.

“As we gain momentum and find additional sponsorship opportunities, we hope to expand our class sizes and frequency of classes,” Porter said. “We are off to a great start and we hope that with time, we can make a substantial impact on area youth and even help shape the next generation of technologically-competent employees in the community.”

For more information on CodeForce, visit codeforcekids.org.

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