Digital Playground: 4th graders learn tech and teamwork

Published: Oct. 6, 2017 at 2:17 PM AKDT
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A classroom at Rogers Park Elementary was invaded by robots Friday morning, but the kids had it under control.

It was part of an ASD program called "Digital Playground." Members of the Anchorage School District's Department of Educational Technology travel to schools to teach student hands-on computer coding and programming skills, in a fun way.

"It's like the 21st century," said fourth grade student Magdalene Eklund. "There's, like, a lot of technology, and there's, like, a lot of stuff. And if you want to be, like anything that deals with technology, you kind of have to learn about it."

The students work in teams, and learn how to program the movements of mini robots and solve computer coding problems.

"I see the excitement, when they figure out what they're doing," said principal Nuri Johnsen. "And I also see all the teamwork that's going on. One student understands one part, another kid understands another part – they kinda come together and make it work."

The program was started last year as a training session for teachers only, but now it includes the student directly.

Getting everything right the first time is not part of the program.

"They're going to fail here today," said teacher Leola Johnson. "And we celebrate that failure by saying, 'It's our First Attempt In Learning.' That's the acronym for fail. So if they're failing here today, they're learning something for the first time, and that's our goal for them."