Learning Code: Creating a pipeline of computer programmers

HARLINGEN — A wise man once told a group of young students the secret to success is, “wake up early, work hard and learn as many languages as you can.”

Harlingen students never heard the adage come from the late Cameron County Judge Adolfo Betancourt. But they sure are following his lead.

Students across the district are getting a head start by staying after school to participate in the computer coding club to learn the computer language.

“These kids have the world at their fingertips as soon as they can hold a device,” said Roland Ingram, Treasure Hills Elementary principal. “Teaching them the basics of code and writing it to achieve a goal in programming lays a fundamental foundation for them to understand the world that they are going to be a part of.”

Club Code UTRGV is an innovative technology program launched by UTRGV Continuing Education in 2015 to build a strong pipeline of technologically oriented youth in the Rio Grande Valley that are better prepared to enter the workforce or higher education with an in-depth understanding of the coding and programming languages and thrive in the 21st century workforce.

“I joined the computer code club because I saw my brother making animations at home, and I wanted to learn how, too,” said Ava Anderson, a fifth grade Treasure Hills Elementary code club student.

The elementary students are learning computer language to write stories, games and animation.

And with some swift key stokes and the click of the mouse, third, fourth and fifth-graders are learning their way around the programming languages.

Ingram said where he would show a picture of rain drops they have actually made a picture to make it rain on the screen.

Many of the students are sharpening their coding skills for the upcoming computer code competition that will be held in March.

The students are learning through Club Code UTRGV.

It serves as an introduction to other programming languages such as Python and Java.

“We are prepping them for what they are going to see in junior high, high school and the workforce they are going to be a part of,” Ingram said.

Educators agree introducing coding to students may spark their interest in STEM-related fields to help fill the demand for computer science graduates.

“For them to have an understanding of coding at such an early age is going to be very advantageous for them,” Ingram said. “If you have knowledge of coding, it puts you at an advantage.”

The eight HCISD elementary schools participating in Club Code are:

Treasure Hills








Jobs Available

Number of computer jobs available in Texas and the U.S. compared to number of computer science graduates

36,950 open computing jobs in Texas

2,714 computer science grads in 2015

503,338 open computing jobs nationally

42,969 computer science students

graduated into the workforce last year

Source: Code.org