JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – In a growing tech economy, there’s a push to get Mississippi kids involved early.
There is a competition designed just for that and it involves a smartphone.
The contest is for sixth through eighth graders and it forces students to use computer coding to build their own games or apps.
MS Kids Code is a program that’s designed to help kids become creators of their own games instead of just users.
Co- founder Tim Mask says the innovative contest is a fun way to use this technology in the classroom.
“They pick on video games very quickly, they pick up on all types of digital technology quickly. The same is with coding and these code platforms. We just want to reinforce that it’s something fun to do, but it’s also something that can transfer into real workforce development skills in the future,” Tim Mask, Co-founder of MS Kids Code, said.
Students are using free on-line coding software- called Scratch.
It’s a drag and drop program where students place the different codes in a certain order to make their objects in the game or app move.
“When they see that something doesn’t work out, they kind of go back and tinker with it a little bit. They decide how they can kind of fix it,” Mehreen Butt, a Teacher at Midtown Public Charter School, said.
Midtown Public Charter School is just one school that has entered the contest.
The students must include local Mississippi hot spots or attractions for every entry.
“My hotspot is the Margaret Walker center. I created a background and a sprite and I’m putting my little flare on it. Like making a jacket with our school name on it,” Zyen King, a student at Midtown Public Charter School, said.
Students are happy they can learn coding and use this technology inside the classroom.
“It’s very fun. I love to do it. It gives us an opportunity to be more creative,” Kendrick Burks, a student at Midtown Public Charter School, said.
“It’s hands on and it’s not just reading a book in a quiet classroom,” King said.
“Nowadays most schools aren’t really teaching that kind of skill set I really love how coding and computer science really helps them to grow in those skills,” Butt said.
The U.S. Department of Labor predicts by 2020 there’s going to be a need for 1.4 million computing jobs, but only 400,000 people are enrolled in those degree programs.
“We can kind of give our scholars exposure to coding and keyboarding and the opportunities that technology brings it can spark an interest in some of them that could turn out to be life long,” Jemar Tisby, the Interim Principal of Midtown Public Charter School, said.
“We believe that the younger our MS kids can get involved in something like this the more of an economic impact it can make in their personal lives and our state’s economy as a whole,” Mask said.
The winner of the contest will get a robotics kit for their class.