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Students and teachers in rural Ontario get coding lessons

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Over 5,000 students in Grey and Bruce Counties have had a visit from Phillip Craig and the Nuclear Innovation Institute (NII) over the past three years to learn about coding.

“Coding is so essential for the jobs of the future. We just want to give students in this area a leg up and head start in that area,” said Craig, the director of the NII’s Explore Division.

The students learning this week are from Southampton, a quaint shoreline town not at the centre of the tech universe.

That’s why not all lessons are actually on computers practicing giving commands to computers, which is essentially what coding is.

“There’s some real struggles when it comes to rural education in this area. Whether that’s tech issues, or even broadband availability. What we’ve done is we’ve taken a lot of the coding lessons offline,” said Craig.

That offline strategy is all part of making it easier for teachers to teach coding, which is as much a part of the 550 classroom visits from Craig and his team as anything.

Students and teachers from G.C Huston Public School in Southampton got a crash-course in coding from the Nuclear Innovation Institute (NII) on Nov. 21, 2023. (Scott Miller/CTV News London)

“Not all our teachers are experts in coding. They’re proficient at using the devices they have with them to teach students, but coding is something that not all teachers are 100 per cent comfortable with,” said Bluewater District School Board Superintendent of Education for Trades/Apprentices/Diversity Keith Lefebvre.

“That’s why what we wanted to do was to take all of our lessons, everything we’ve done all these times, put it into a package, and put it out into the world so that any teacher anywhere can use these lessons totally free of charge,” said Craig.

Coding for students and teachers will continue through the NII for the rest of this year, and possibly beyond.

“Coding’s pretty cool. The idea of telling a computer or robot what to do, that’s pretty cool,” said grade 5 student Raine Catalan.

You can access the Coding lessons for teachers and students by following this link.

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