TechWise Academy, a Muncie coding and computer science institution for children, launched a new online curriculum for third- through sixth-grade students with little or no coding experience.
The course, "Foundations of Coding," will introduce students to a problem-solving framework, computational thinking and basic coding.
The idea for this course was born in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic - which forced TechWise to cancel all its classes, including "Scratch Jr." and "MakeCode Workshop"and switch to providing free livestreams and virtual classes.
"When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, we canceled classes out of caution for our students' safety," said Brandon Coppernoll, TechWise Academy co-founder, in a press release June 23. "We offered free livestreams and virtual classes and saw this was a new and different way to provide both parents and children a way to continue learning and having fun."
One feature of the new course allows parents to follow along with the coursework to either help or work alongside their child.
Melanie Dyann Howe, local entrepreneur and businesswoman who partnered with TechWise on this course, said the pandemic also inspired her to create the course.
"I would have loved this option last summer for my daughter," Howe said in the June 23 press release. "I wanted to know my daughter was learning something she could use and not just watching YouTube all day, so I approached Brandon [Coppernoll] and Ryan [Hunter] with an idea."
Ryan Hunter, TechWise co-founder and lead instructor, said in the June 23 press release the parent interactions make the Foundations of Coding course especially helpful.
"We wanted parents to know there is something fun and educational for their children to do online this summer that can also assist with subject retention from school," Hunter said.
Coppernoll said via email TechWise has several new online courses planned for the remainder of the year and hopes to have courses for children in kindergarten through sixth grade by 2022.
"We plan [to have] additional courses for this age group on how to design and program a variety of games using Scratch," he said.
Scratch is an interactive online program for children that allows them to create their own interactive stories, games and animations.
Hunter said "Foundations of Coding" and the future coding classes TechWise is working on plan to encapsulate TechWise's approach of embracing mistakes, enjoying learning and exploring computer science.
"I strongly believe in coding and computer science to assist in a child's development," Hunter said. "Coding gives children immediate and correctable feedback and teaches them not to fear mistakes."