Port Allen students learn to code to make interactive games for 1st graders

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) — Christian McMillian, 7th grader at Port Allen Middle School, is testing his ABC games on 1st graders.

“Little kids like elementary school, 1st grade, 2nd grade and kindergarten, they love stories. So we thought it would be a good idea to add a story to the game,” explains Christian. The goal is to get the first graders to stomp on the splats and sing their ABC’s. Christian created this game by programming. “So we actually use the unruly Splats app, which lets you code programs, you can make your own game. The types of games were the minion game, it turns purple and you have to make it yellow. We had the ABC game and Little Red Robin,” says Christian.

Christian and his class really put their minds to programming games that would motivate first years and keep them active during PE class. You might want to do that one day.’ If you look at it, this is actually the starting point if you want to work in technology,” explains Alana Simoneaux, the 1st grade physical education coach at Port Allen Elementary.

Teachers say programming kids early will hopefully lead them to future careers. Students also learned other skills like collaboration and what it’s like to work on a specific project for the benefit of others. “With such tremendous advances in technology, the future is in it, and these kids love technology. So why not give them control over it and give them the opportunity to make improvements,” says Tasha Robichaux, who teaches students how to code.

After this test run, Christian is already thinking about his next game to be programmed. “I thought we could make a game like a birthday cake. Maybe we could label the splat with some kind of ingredient they would need to make a cake,” adds Christian.

Port Allen middle and elementary school students took first place in a statewide programming competition. The seventh graders won the competition for their programming and the first graders also received top honors for their long participation.

Some of the teachers tell WAFB that this model could be implemented in some other schools in the district.

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