December 02, 2015

Future computer scientists code with Javascript

The curriculum at the Tiger Woods Learning Center is anything but ordinary. Students encounter real-world situations and are challenged to find creative solutions. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be highlighting three new courses that launched this fall at learning center campuses across the country. Last week, I had the opportunity to sit in on the computer science course at the Anaheim center and watch students learn to code in Javascript. Pretty cool, right? Here’s what I discovered.

At the heart of this class lies the question: How are computer programs created? Well, these students are certainly learning just that. Imagine creating software that calculates the vital information of a space rocket launch or programming an application to take specific orders at a popular restaurant. Through this lesson plan and a series of projects, students are learning about the history of computer science and how to code in the Javascript language using functions, loops, data structures and objects.

Led by instructor David Tong, this class is truly something special. Students walk into a creative environment where they are free to be themselves. Projects line the walls, lots of natural light filters in and inspiring pictures hang all around. Students sit at tables of four connecting with one another, engaged in the learning material. Mr. Tong begins the class with an intriguing 10-minute lecture and then the scholars receive their laptops to begin hands-on projects. 

“What I found most surprising about the curriculum is that the students are soaking up the information like sponges,” Mr. Tong said. “They are all hungry to learn about how to code, not just by using the block-based instruction at, but also through coding with actual Javascript language. The students have been looking forward to the different Javascript coding challenges each week such as ‘code your adventure’ or creating a ‘rock, paper, scissors’ game.”

These scholars are learning about coding while creating amazing projects. As I sat in on class, I watched as students were eager to begin their “coding adventure.” Mr. Tong uses relatable lessons to reach the kids including: music to help them remember the concept of coding, phrases about Justin Bieber in their projects, and even Miami Heat big man and NBA All-Star Chris Bosh came on the video screen to help the students learn since he is a computer programmer when he isn’t on the court. 

A student shows his computer during a computer science class at the Tiger Woods Learning Center

As students worked, I saw the wheels turning in their heads as they debugged functions, laughed, chatted and coded their projects. These students will raise their hand right away if they have a question, and they really help each other out as a group. It’s a total team atmosphere to conquer their projects, and they have a ton of fun while doing so. 

I asked a few girls in the class what their favorite project was and they explained to me that by putting functions into the computer, they were able to write their names and draw pictures such as flowers or snowflakes. The girls said that it took them the whole class and the excitement of seeing the final product was so rewarding!
“I feel that though students are completing several programming projects by the end of the course, the greatest learning comes through the process,” Mr. Tong reflected. “By becoming effective with writing algorithms, debugging and programming in a new language, I feel students can transfer these skills gained in this course and increase their achievement in other subjects. I hope that they leave the course with a positive outlook on the computer science field and the belief that they can actually make a career in this industry if they put in the effort.”

Fun, creativity and learning come together in this one-of-a-kind computer programming course. Find out more about the Tiger Woods Learning Center and how you can help foster the potential in these future computer scientists.