New Kit Helps Teach Coding to Students in Grades 4–8

STEAM education technology company SAM Labs has released a new bundle to teach students in grades 4–8 how to code. The introduction of the Learn to Code Course Kit adds the upper elementary and middle school grades to the company's existing STEAM Course Kit, which serves grades pre-K–5.

The SAM Labs curriculum covers 50 lessons and includes lesson plans, slides, a "mission journal" and step-by-step instructions to help students learn how to create algorithms, loops and functions.

The new bundle assumes a 30-student classroom. The curriculum follows a block-based coding approach, and the kit includes a set of micro:bit's tiny programmable computers and the Workbench App. Workbench produces a Chrome-compatible learning platform with lessons, project authoring, sharing and search; the company was acquired by Google late last year.

"The kids are learning but not really realizing how much learning they're doing," said Sarah Gerhardt, a teacher who has used SAM Labs courses with her fourth-graders at Burien, WA's Troy Shorewood Elementary School, in a statement. "It's also great that I'm able to incorporate coding, computer science and even art into this work without doing an extra lesson. The kids naturally want to create works of art that go with their projects."

"Our courses have been wildly successful at delivering the depth of learning that only emerges as a result of authentic problem solving and hands-on experiences. We prepare students to have a stronger foundation in computational thinking, a version of the scientific method that's self-correcting and geared toward innovation," added Hilary Aylesworth, vice president of product at SAM Labs, in a statement.

The Learn to Code classroom kit is $1,599 with the micro.bit computers and $1,449 without.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.