In Celeste Endo’s class at Queen Ka‘ahumanu Elementary School, students perform the “wiggle dance” when she flashes a black card. When the card is red, they break into song — “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star.”
Endo’s students are only in pre-kindergarten, but they are already familiarizing themselves with basic coding language: the “if / else” conditional statement. As they grow older, they will continue to work alongside Endo to strengthen their coding skills.
“When they’re accustomed to doing this and it’s just natural for them, I think that’s when they’re not going to be afraid to try something new,” said Endo, who teachers computer science to pre-kindergarteners through fifth graders.
Senate Bill 2142 aims to produce more teachers like Endo. The bill requires the University of Hawaii College of Education to create more pathways for teachers to teach computer science at the elementary and secondary level, while also providing $1 million in scholarships to coax educators to develop expertise in the subject area.
SB 2142 could take Hawaii’s computer science efforts a step further, said David Miyashiro, founding executive director of HawaiiKidsCan. By allowing computer science to fulfill a graduation requirement, rather than just an elective credit, the state could get more students to prioritize programming, he added.
“SB 2142 would be a big boost for computer science equity and access, as it would make computer science count toward core graduation requirements,” Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, who introduced the bill, said in a written statement. “Research shows that this kind of requirement change would help underrepresented minorities and female students.”
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