Freddie was a 13-year-old boy whose aunt suffered from dementia and was unable to recognize guests entering her home. To help his aunt, Freddie designed a doorbell system that incorporated facial recognition algorithms and scanned people’s faces against a database of family members. If the system recognized a face, their ID was scanned, and a friendly voice announced visitors. This device made a significant and positive impact on Freddie’s aunt’s life. This story inspired JCDS Technology Integration Specialist Cristina Knodel to drive new coding initiatives at our school.
It is innovative thinking like this that propels Ms. Knodel to help Jacksonville Country Day School students apply technology skills to develop solutions to real-world issues. As software engineer Frederick Brooks said, “The programmer, like the poet, builds their castles in the air, creating by exertion of the imagination, grand conceptual structures.”
Last spring, Ms. Knodel attended the Innovation Institute at Pine Crest School and returned equipped with new strategies to enhance Jacksonville Country Day School's coding program. This year, JCDS’ coding program will be expanded to include Pre-K 3 and Pre-K 4 students who will be taught preliminary coding logic through board games and interactive activities. Also, students in Kindergarten through 6th grade will gain greater access to foundational coding skills culminating in the use of Scratch. Students will learn to code interactive stories, animations, games, and even artificial intelligence. In conjunction with these curriculum initiatives, JCDS purchased cutting-edge teaching tools, which include recently developed Minecraft equipment and Kubo, Botley, Dash, and Root robots.
Ms. Knodel explains that JCDS prepares students for a future with the 21st-century skills necessary to be successful. Through the use of design thinking, project-based learning, the makerspace, and technology, JCDS helps students develop critical thinking, problem solving and creativity. Coding also helps students tap into mathematical and linguistic processes, and it is most successfully implemented when students progress through a continuum, beginning at an early age.
“As we provide a foundation of knowledge for children, we cannot be certain what the future will look like when they enter the workforce, but we do know that technology and coding will certainly be a part of it,” Ms. Knodel said.
Ms. Knodel’s goal is to use this new equipment to teach students to code as they create and innovate. “It is my mission to continue to work with our students so they feel empowered as creators of content. Through coding and robotics, we offer another venue for students to develop executive functioning skills while they learn to persevere and problem solve. Coding allows children to use their imagination, express themselves, think differently, and most importantly, to find innovative solutions to real-world issues.”
Located In Jacksonville, FL, Jacksonville Country Day School is a private school for Pre-K 3 through 6th grade. JCDS prepares students for a healthy and productive lifetime of intellectual exploration, character development, and social responsibility.