Ontario recently announced that it will be updating the provincial science curriculum to include coding lessons in elementary schools starting in Grade 1. This may come as a surprise to some school boards, but Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) has included coding in its elementary curriculum for more than five years. The Learning Partnership’s Coding Quest program, made possible by diverse supporters including National Program Partner Capital One Canada, is an integral part of OCSB’s exceptional STEAM education program for Grades 1 through 6.
Students play each other's video games. Note: Photo was taken prior to COVID-19.
Yolanta Krawiecki, an OCSB K-6 Science & Technology Education Consultant, is proud to say that her board’s STEAM education is world-class. Her board has an annual STEAM week, OCSB's schools all have 3D printers, and its teachers enjoy highlighting students’ STEAM learning online using the hashtag #ocsbSTEAM. Krawiecki also says that Ottawa Catholic School Board values deep learning, hands-on experiences, and ensuring that their students have access to the latest technologies and innovations in education.
Stellar STEAM Projects
Krawiecki says Coding Quest provides many outstanding STEAM learning opportunities for OCSB’s students. With STEAM skills and design thinking processes in mind, students create their own video games that are as well-coded as they are creative. Students have created dance games, character-based games, and even a self-regulation game called “Getting to Green” where students have to use their social-emotional skills to “get to the green zone”. The cross-disciplinary opportunities are endless.
Students enjoy playing each other's video games. Note: Photo was taken prior to COVID-19
When students are learning in person, OCSB loves to let students design their own video game consoles with a 3D printer then connect the consoles to control the Coding Quest games. Unfortunately, 3D printing has not been as accessible with virtual learning but OCSB hasn’t let that get in the way of their fun. Instead, teachers hosted a virtual game fair in which Coding Quest students shared their games on the OCSB website enabling them to play each other’s games. This online initiative connected classes across different schools and added some great STEAM-based entertainment to their online learning.
Inspiring Inclusive Impact
Ottawa Catholic School Board is accustomed to getting attention for its stand-out STEAM education: St. Elizabeth Anne Seton Catholic School even got to show off the video games they built with Coding Quest on CTV News Ottawa. At the end of the day though, Krawiecki says that making a difference to the students will always be the greatest reward of implementing innovative educational programs.
"Girls say they might not have tried coding if not for Coding Quest. Giving girls that opportunity now means they are more likely to be open to the opportunity of pursuing computer science down the road."
– Yolanta Krawiecki, OCSB K-6 Science & Technology Education Consultant
“Coding is universal around the world,” Krawiecki said. “I had a Grade 6 student who moved to Germany in Grade 7 and he didn’t really speak German. Scratch was being used to teach coding in his class in Germany, and this was one of the things that made this student feel like they had something to share, something that they already knew.”
“It was hard going to a new school and learning a new language, but they felt that they understood the coding language better than the rest of the class... and this child was able to feel like they belong.”
The Learning Partnership is proud that Coding Quest is part of Ottawa Catholic School Board’s cutting-edge STEAM education programming. You can learn more about OCSB’s Annual STEAM Week here
, and be sure to check out the hashtag #ocsbSTEAM
Coding Quest is available to publicly-funded schools across Canada at no cost to teachers thanks to support from National Program Partner Capital One Canada and the Government of Canada, among others.