Da Vinci Codes

Programming is one of the most important skills in the modern age, and Da Vinci is teaching its students those skills with the brand new Intro to Coding class. The only new course at the campus this year, it aims to teach students about the world of coding, even if they don’t know what a “>print” is.
“It’s a tech-focused course at a New Tech school. It makes perfect sense,” said Mr. Zach Harju, who’s leading the class along with Mr. Terry Toy and Ms. Briana DeRobbio. That’s right, there are three teachers for this one class, and they all bring a different skillset to help students learn about the subject.
Mr. Harju has had prior experience with coding within the math and engineering world, and is also teaching the more advanced levels of math this year on the Da Vinci campus, and Mr. Toy is a professional programmer with plenty of experience using Python (the coding language the class is using). The amount of instructors is definitely needed, considering the class boasts an impressive 48 students, the most out of any course in a single period. There are some divided opinions about how the size affects the class.“The biggest issue with the [class] size is the bandwidth,” said Mr. Harju.
Junior Stephen Donecker agrees, saying, “I think there should be two periods of it (the class), but I think it’s good as is.”
Time will tell if the size gets to be a real issue later on, but it does add onto what is guaranteed to be one of the most interesting courses available this year.
What makes this particular coding class unique is its adoption of Da Vinci’s signature Project Based Learning structure. The course uses Pythonanywhere.com as its primary learning tool, along with lessons each day that teach about specific commands and how to use them. Some students who came from Da Vinci or Emerson Junior High might also recall that there was a programming class there, too. While Intro to Coding is primarily meant for beginners, there are several students who had taken the Programming/Robotics class already.
“It’s great to have ‘experts’ who already know about the subject,” said Mr. Harju. There are other s for differences between the two classes, aside from the use of a different website to learn as observed by Donecker who took the class at the Junior High. “We’re also learning things a lot faster thanks to the new lesson structure, so we can get to bigger projects sooner,” said Donecker. Anyone with prior experience coding is highly encouraged to help out those who don’t understand the topic quite as much. This creates a cooperative environment that perfectly blends Da Vinci’s group-based learning with the otherwise uncooperative activity that is programming.
The school year has only just begun, so time will tell if this class will turn out to be a success, but at least for now it looks to be one. As for future projects, the class holds a lot of freedom for students to explore. “You’ll have to wait and see for specifics, but it’s safe to say there’ll be a lot of room for choice and for students to work within their areas of interest,” said Mr. Harju.
It looks as if some of those products will include games and other types of programs. It’ll be very interesting to see what they come up with. With learning how to program becoming almost as useful a skill as learning another language and almost every slightly tech-based job requiring knowledge of it, these students will come out with some highly valuable skills. If you want to try out coding for yourself, a free version of pythonanywhere.com is available, so get your coding on!

Leave a Reply