St. Henry Youth Coding League wins ‘Technical Proficient Merit’ competition

Friday, January 17, 2020
St. Henry Youth Coding League
Submitted photo

CHARLESTON, Mo. — The St. Henry Catholic School’s Youth Coding League team “Coding through the Ages” was declared the winner of the “Technical Proficient Merit” competition of the YCL Championship at the All-Star Party in December.

Team members included Will Renaud, Gabe Fitzgerald and Tylen Campbell. In the “Individual Player” competition, Will Renaud was the second place “Top Scorer” winner from a field of 416 competitors with a score of 476 points. The “Most Improved” award was presented to Gabe Fitzgerald. He was recognized for his work ethic, resilience in the face of brand-new skills in computer science, and his commitment to the ”Coding through the Ages” team and the Youth Coding League.

The work began in August of 2019 with 750 students in grades five through eight from 40 local schools using Google’s CS First online computer science curriculum in an after-school format to learn coding basics with Scratch, a block-based coding tool. Developed by the Marquette Tech District, the program teaches coding concepts to 5th through 8th graders using teachers in each school system. 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). After working through a very structured curriculum that spanned eight sprints, the Youth Coding League players took a simple prompt and created a group project for the championship competition. A team of industry professionals reviewed the projects from the local schools and evaluated them based on core computer science principles to determine the winners of the championship round. Prizes awarded during the All-Star party were in excess of $20,000.

“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,” said Stacy Dohogne Lane, community director. “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. We think group projects are very representative of what the workforce they will be entering one day really looks like,” says Dohogne Lane. 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.” Serving rural schools in Southeast Missouri the introductory and intermediate coding programs for youth and young adults teach basic programming and problem-solving skills that will benefit students regardless of the career they choose. The youth are building logical thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as how to think systematically. Youth who may not be textbook academic achievers are excelling in the Youth Coding League with confidence and resiliency as they learn skills for the digital future.

The Google CS First online curriculum through the MTI and Codefi Youth Coding League program is expanding to the St. Louis and Paducah areas in the 2020-2021 school year.