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New Grant Expands Coding Program

Courtesy of Herald Community Newspapers

A Hofstra program that trains college students to teach coding at local middle schools will be expanded to reach another 500 youngsters this fall, thanks to a $25,000 grant from VOYA Financial.

The program, begun by Professor Alex Pelaez, who teaches information system and business analytics in the Frank G. Zarb School of Business, has served middle school students in Baldwin and Merrick since 2013. Hofstra students visit the schools one to three times each week, teaching a curriculum that includes Scratch, Python, spreadsheets, databases and web programming, depending on the grade level.

The grant will continue the efforts of Prof. Pelaez’s Next Generation Programming Academy. Professor Amy Catalano, who teaches Elementary STEM and serves as the director of Secondary Science in the School of Education, will now co-chair the program to help expand the initiative in public schools.

Prof. Pelaez and Prof. Catalano intend to involve 10 or more Hofstra students in the upcoming initiative projected to begin Fall 2018 and run through Spring 2019, including both undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Education and the Zarb School of Business.

“I believe this is a win-win-win situation,” said Prof. Pelaez. “The children in these schools learn problem-solving skills through coding. While our Hofstra students are getting the practical experience, as well as the technical experience of teaching a programming language. It helps them get jobs in the long-run too. I’ve had students tell me that in their job interviews, this experience is talked about the most.”

The Next Generation Programming Academy is expected to resume in the Fall of 2018 and continue through the Spring of 2019.

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