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Dec. 16, 2016

 
Tech Coding Jenny and Jimena  

 

Students in Susan Reagin’s computer science class at Arsenal
Technical High School have spent the semester creating storyboards, selecting
images and sounds, and learning basic software design.

 

It was a hands-on lesson that resulted in student-created
trivia apps and videogames unveiled — to everyone from school administrators to
business professionals — during a recent showcase inside the Arsenal building
on Tech’s campus.

 

Guests were invited to use the apps and games, and to
provide feedback that the students — who worked in teams — will use to work out
bugs and improve the overall user experience. Students also handed out business
cards that included a QR (Quick Response) code to download the games and trivia
apps.

 

Watching freshmen students Jenny R. and Jimena C. interact
with guests while talking about their trivia app, you would never know that
both were more than a little apprehensive about this project and the computer
science class itself.

 

“I didn’t think I would do good in the class because coding
seemed difficult, but once I got through it, it was really easy and I learned a
lot from it,” said Jenny.

 

“I thought the same thing, and I thought it was going to be
boring,” said Jimena C., “but coding is really fun.”

 

Their app features an 11-year-old girl named Olivia who’s on
the computer looking for a fun way to test her knowledge during a rainy day of
recess at school. She stumbles across the app created by Jenny and Jimena and
begins to play. With its colorful imagery and festive sounds, the app includes
40 categorized true/false questions that test users’ knowledge in history,
geography, food and movies.

 

The project-based class through Tech’s Computer and Technology Center (CTC) is a
partnership with IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI. It’s part of the
school’s Informatics Diversity-Enhanced Workforce (iDEW) program. IUPUI
professors and students have been working alongside Tech teachers to help
youths learn the ins and outs of computer science — from coding to Website
design.

 

It’s also the high school and university’s attempt to
introduce students of diverse backgrounds to careers in STEM (Science,
Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

 

“This is a special program that’s only in its second year. We’re
trying to get typically underrepresented students into informatics or computer
science,” said Reagin. “We’re trying to broaden the perspective of what
computer science is and to show that it could relate to anybody.”

 

Overall, Reagin said her students loved the experience.

 

“The kids love the program and they were all engaged,” said
Reagin. “They were so excited to be able to show off what they learned and
created. It’s really a unique program to kind of take it to the next level by
having the showcase and making a presentation. We didn’t just stop with writing
it and not letting anybody see it. Computers exist for us to use and we’re
allowing our audience to use what we created.”

 

Ben Carter, director of Career and Technical Education, said
the partnership with IUPUI and the iDEW program helps to fulfill CTC’s mission
to provide all students with opportunities to become enrolled, employed and
enlisted and to feel empowered about their futures — especially with a diverse
population.

 

“We’re making sure that they have the soft skills and the
technical skills necessary to make that next step by providing them with access
to these types of STEM programs,” said Carter. “Helping them blur the lines
between secondary and post-secondary schooling by bringing in professors,
letting them visit campuses and providing scholarships to help them matriculate
on are some of the intentional steps we’re taking to ensure that our students
have every opportunity to succeed in STEM career fields.”