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Google brings high-energy introduction to coding to Whitesville Elementary

Published Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Photo from the google event

Students at Whitesville Elementary wait in excitement for the big event hosted by Google on Wednesday, Mary 18, 2018. (BCSD photo) MORE PHOTOS

Google brought the excitement it’s known for to Whitesville Elementary School Wednesday for a high-energy introduction to computer science (CS) and coding.

The room was filled with smiles, laughter, and elementary school students jumping in their chairs as they wrote code to animate a story. Berkeley County School District teachers and administrators walked the room and observed as students saturated themselves in the STEM activity.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster was in attendance and was frequently caught smiling as he looked over the shoulders of students eager to explore the future of learning.

The celebration of learning Wednesday was a Google CS First event, which is designed to promote STEM (science, technology engineering and mathematics) learning and generate an interest in computer science.

Presenting the lesson to eager 4th-graders was a handful of Google employees just as eager to share their knowledge. Among those was Google double-click bid manager support specialist J.J. Shulz.

“I just do this on top of my full-time role,” she said. “To do stuff like this, that I am passionate about… I LOVE getting kids into computer science. I think it’s so awesome and so cool that Google allows me to take a break from my work and be able to do this.”

Shulz and others took the process of coding step-by-step. From there, it’s hoped students will pursue projects that can be found online.

“It’s a starting off point for them. I know from personal experience I would have loved for somebody to come to me when I was a kid and been like, ‘hey, you can do this as a job.’”

The Google program has been responsible for the launch of approximately 13,000 computer science clubs nationwide. Organizers say this latest event hosted at Whitesville Elementary made a lot of sense because of the pre-existing relationship with Berkeley County School District.

“This is one of our data center communities,” said Google spokesman Alex Sanchez. We have really strong ties to the community here. We’ve done a lot of stuff with Berkeley County Schools, and this is something that in collaboration with them, thought this would be a great location…”

Gov. McMaster described the event and partnership with Google as “innovative” and “off the scale in imagination.” He said it’s exciting to see 4th-graders learn coding and become interested in computer science.

“Education has to change,” Gov. McMaster said.

Brian Troutman