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They got the moves like coders

Fourth graders Arpanna Dhungana and Alliance Uwajenza danced along with a boogying avatar on their laptop screen.

It’s party time!

They danced slow, then fast, tossing their heads back in laughter at the dizzying motions they had commanded through programming on the Code.org game “Dance Party.”

 “You can change the colors and the backgrounds,” Alliance said about what she learned during the Hour of Code.

Nearly 400 fourth and fifth graders from six Kentwood elementary schools recently helped turn a coding party into a dance party at Discovery Elementary, marking National Computer Science Week Dec. 9-14. Students spent an hour coding simultaneously and hearing from local West Michigan Tech Talent professionals about careers in computer programming and technology.

The event promoted information technology careers. “Eventually we would like to set a world record for teaching the most kids to code at the same time,” said John Vancil, who works for Grand Rapids-based IT firm OST.

Southwood Elementary fourth-grader Serenitie Feltion codes on Code.org

Jobs in IT are in demand and technology is ever-changing, he said. Inspiring students in elementary school can help fill the future talent pipeline with a generation of digital natives. “They are clearly naturals,” he said. “Once you get them connected, they take off.”

Lindsey Tilley, IT communications and marketing lead at Herman Miller, said IT offers opportunities in a high-paying jobs that will continue to be available into the future. “We are looking for more and more students to go into technology all the time,” she said.

Southwood Elementary student Trezia Msema said the event brought out her creativity. “I like how you can use your imagination, explore a little it and get out of your comfort zone.”

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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