Mernda Park Primary School codes for the future

Mernda Park Primary School is setting its students up as "kid coders" for the future.

As a small, new school with 99 students and growing, Mernda Park Primary School has made it their mission to embrace Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) and digital technologies.

Mernda Park Primary School's motto is 'Where Creativity Meets Technology'.

They have introduced coding and programming across the whole school  using range of software platforms including: Scratch Junior, Scratch, Hour of Code, and Dash and Dot.

'By using Scratch, students have been challenged to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively — essential skills for life in the 21st century,' Principal Mary Ryan says.

Students are using their coding and design knowledge to develop games. Games development isn't just playing around - it includes concepts of design, fairness, strategy and rules. It also helps students understand how everyday apps, websites and other software are made.

'To be successful in the future, research shows that students need to be encouraged to be curious learners and develop skills in collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and communication.'

Raspberry Pi

Mernda Park Primary School's Raspberry Pi sessions appeal to disengaged students as well as higher achieving students, as it encourages them to be creative and try their own ideas.

Mernda Park Primary School teacher Gabby Henning has been instrumental in setting up the program and partnership with Whittlesea Council.

'Students are encouraged to take risks in their coding and have quickly learnt that the more mistakes they make, the more that they learn,' Ms Henning says.

'The Raspberry Pi sessions have also improved social skills and communication between students as they share their ideas and are very keen to learn from one another.'

In partnership with the City of Whittlesea, the school dedicates weekly Raspberry Pi sessions as part of the Victorian Curriculum's Digital Technologies and STEAM programs. Raspberry Pi is a small programmable computer that students can use as a computer program, a robot, a device and more.  

Women in STEM

To boost female engagement and participation, Robogals - a student-run program from Melbourne University - held a lunch time coding club at the school. The club mainly consists of females ranging from Grades 2-4 practising and learning different coding techniques.

'It is our aim to increase the number of female participation in our coding programs as it is mainly a male-dominated industry,' Ms Ryan  ​says.

'Student engagement was very high and not only did students learn a new coding language, they developed problem solving skills and worked collaboratively in teams to complete each challenge.'

To explore the resources to support teaching of the Digital Technologies Curriculum, see: Digital Technologies Curriculum

For resources on supporting digital learning, see: Digital learning

Interested in STEM and education? Tech Schools's Tech Fest is holding a range of events from mid March to mid April 2018. Find a Tech Fest event near you.