Covington Students Code at the Capitol

Sixth-graders from Covington Middle School were among the first in the nation to use a new "small-board computer"—and they got to showcase their skills on the House floor of the Capitol.

As part of the worldwide Hour of Code event held during Computer Science Education Week, students learned to use the micro:bit technology from the Micro:bit Educational Foundation.

Principal Shannon Sellstrom said the event gave students the chance to demonstrate what they'd learned on their own and to show the importance of computer science in their education.

"They did a little bit in school, they stayed after school, they came in during lunches, some of their extra time,” Sellstrom said. “And then they took it home over Thanksgiving week and then they spent hours figuring it out [and] working on expanding what they learned.”  

Hal Speed, founder of the volunteer organization Computer Science for Texas, and head of North America Micro:bit Educational Foundation, described the micro:bit as a small-board computer designed specifically for education.

"It’s really magical when they see that what they program is actually running on hardware, because they’re so used to the apps already being written by somebody for their phone," he said. "It’s not just the abstract environment of screen time, but the kids are actually learning what the hardware does and how to interact the hardware with the software and vice versa."

One of Covington’s students attending the event, Mariana, said among her favorite parts was getting to see other people’s projects and creativity.

“I think it’s really cool that we have this stuff that we can do in our school district," she said. "It's a good opportunity and a good learning experience.”