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Kids Across Southeast Missouri Await Results From Youth Coding League Championships

Marquette Tech Institute/Codefi
Youth Coding League players work on laptops at Central Middle School.

After a semester of hard work, students from 17 local schools have entered into the last rounds of the Youth Coding League’s spring season.

Developed by the Marquette Tech District, the after-school program teaches coding concepts to 5th and 6th graders through teachers in each school system and Google’s CS First curriculum. It was built by Marquette Technology Institute and Codefi, and it’s provided at no cost to local schools by the Marquette Tech District Foundation’s educational arm: the Marquette Technology Institute (MIT).

According to community director Stacy Dohogne Lane, the league has grown by seven schools since its inaugural season in Fall of 2018.

“We’ve got more kids participating, and the field is a little more competitive as we move into the postseason,” said Dohogne Lane.

Postseason? In coding? You heard right.

The program is modeled like athletics in a school, a setup that Dohogne Lane says fulfills their goal of making it “feel like a sports league.” During the regular season of the Youth Coding League, players are scored on different attributes with the CS First curriculum ranging from attendance to participation, and creativity to complexity of code. They can check their rank against other students in the region weekly, and their individual scores are calculated into their team scores.

After the regular season wraps up, they shift away from CS First, and move toward working on group projects. This carries them into the postseason with the playoffs, and then the championships.

“We think group projects are very representative of what the workforce they will be entering one day really looks like,” says Dohogne Lane.

During the postseason, players are given a simple prompt - something that allows them to stretch their creative muscles and use the tools they learned throughout the semester. Then, local industry professionals judge their projects based on technical complexity.

Dohogne Lane says the Youth Coding League not only gives regional students a sense of belonging, but a background in what MIT calls “the digital literacy of the future.”

“Even if kids don’t go on to be computer programmers, knowing and speaking that language and understanding how all of those pieces will fit together is only going to benefit them,” says Dohogne Lane. “And, knowing how to think logically: All the things that coding really teaches you how to do are going to impact positively any academic discipline.”

And, on a girl-power note, Dohogne Lane says:

“In an industry that’s only 20% female, we’re at a 50/50 split.”

The Community Favorite category of the postseason began Thursday, Apr. 24 and ended at noon today. Winners will be announced at the All-Star Party on Wednesday, May 1.

Participating schools for this season include the 32nd Judicial Circuit, Central Middle School, Delta Elementary, Eagle Ridge Christian School, Kelly Middle School, Kelso C-7 Elementary, Meadow Heights Elementary, Nell Holcomb Elementary, Oak Ridge Elementary, Prodigy Leadership Academy, Richland R-1 Elementary, Scott County Central Elementary, Sikeston’s 5th and 6th Grade Center, St. Henry School, St. Paul Lutheran School, St. Vincent de Paul School and Trinity Lutheran School.