Seguin City Councilwoman Fonda Mathis watched over a Barnes Middle School student’s shoulder as they worked on the coding program AI (artificial intelligence) for Oceans.

The students were tasked with teaching the program to identify fish from trash.

As Mathis watched the students in Stephanie Spacek’s class, she said she was impressed with the work they were doing, and seeing each year how the programs evolve.

“I am always impressed,” she said. “I love seeing how year to year technology changes and adapts to teaching and the teaching profession and allows us to engage youth at an even younger age to be coders. It is impressive and I enjoy it very much.”

Spacek’s students began express coding through Code.Org a couple of weeks ago, she said.

However, she began lessons in coding and how it is applied in every day life.

One of the lessons was dividing her class into groups and giving the groups a location in which they had to write clear and concise directions, but not the location.

“They turn their directions over to the next group and see if that group can make it to that location,” she said. “If they don’t, we have to problem to solve as to why that is. What steps did they take? Like some of us have different foot sizes and strides.”

Teaching the students how to code was a way for schools to bring computer science to the classroom and help guide the students into the future.

“We have so many jobs out there right now that are going unfilled because people do not know how to code a computer program or have had any experience in computer science,” Spacek said. “It is one of those that we are trying to get more students interested into that field.”

Mathis was just one of many community members that got a peek at what the Seguin students are learning during an Hour of Code this week.

“It is a variety,” Randy Rodgers, Seguin ISD director of digital learning, said. “It is a chance for us to bring in some special folks to see how our kids are learning computer science, whether it is coding or robotics or in some cases, 3D design, game design. It is a chance to sit down, get hands on with the kids.”

Watching the students become the teachers is a lot of fun, Rodgers said.

“It’s really cute watching the chief of police getting taught how to code by a second grader,” he said. “It is really a nice way to see him connect to the community and then for the community to connect back.”

The Hour of Code event is the perfect opportunity for community members to get a look at what the students are doing.

“This shows them that their investments into our schools do have a payoff,” Spacek said.

Having community members like Mathis, who has a degree in computer science, visit the classrooms, helps give the students a different point of view in the technology field, Rodgers said.

“Having her supreme geek skills in here as well is awesome,” Rodgers said. “Mrs. Mathis has been on the education committee at the Chamber for 15 years and she is a great support of everything we do here. She comes out every time. We need more women like Mrs. Mathis who have those kinds of degrees and have the kids — especially our girls — see that and realize that they can do the same.”

Felicia Frazar is the managing editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail her at felicia.frazar@seguingazette.com .

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