Lone Star elementary student places beads onto bracelet as part of offline coding activity

Coding without computers – Elementary students use beads to learn binary code

Oct. 6, 2020 – Who says you need a computer to learn coding?

These Lone Star elementary school students don’t. With strands of string and lots of beads, these elementary schoolers were able to grasp the basic principles of programming without sitting in front of a screen.

Offline coding, taught through the Career and Technical Education STEM Outreach program, puts an entertaining twist on teaching code through hands-on activities. By unplugging the computer, the subject becomes less intimidating and more interactive for young learners.

On this day, the students learned the basics of binary code and then dove into hands-on assignments including writing secret words, decoding their partner’s message, and creating bracelets using binary code. Each bracelet was a sequence that spelled out a complete thought!

At the end of the lesson, students walked away with a better understanding of code, and a personal keepsake.

While it’s essential to learn coding with a computer, unplugging and learning offline can be just as beneficial for students. Coding know-how, whether online or offline, is good for students in an increasingly digital world, even if a career in computer programming isn’t in the immediate future.

The Career & Technical Education STEM Outreach program promotes STEM education through a hands-on and minds-on approach to learning. Rebecca Miller, a CTE specialist with the district, will be writing a regular blog that highlights the many district CTE programs offered.