11-year-old Leandro Peets is all smiles holding his Hour of Code certificate completion certificate (Spokesman Snap)

By: Precious Mills

BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Friday 8th February 2019)-Young scholar 11-year-old Leandro Peets has some advice for his peers and children in general as it relates balancing school work and having fun.

This reporter had a chit-chat with the grade 6 student of the Tucker-Clarke Primary School (formerly New Town Primary) on Monday this week (4th February) at the school following a ceremony for graduates of the Hour of Code Competition organised by the Junior Achievers programme in December 2018 featuring title sponsor Insurance Company of the West Indies (ICWI).

More than 80 students ages 7 to 11 participated in the first time computer science activity. Each were awarded certificates of completion.

Programme Coordinator and teacher Yvette Ross seen with some of the students who took part in the Hour of Code Competition (Spokesman Snap)

Peets, in giving his take on the technological exercise, told: “This coding competition was a great event. It inspired me to code more and we’re very grateful at the Tucker Clarke Primary School and I think it needs to be implemented more in schools.”

He pointed to the understanding of the coding competition which involved “the formulation of games such as Subway Surfers.”

Quizzed on what advice he has for his schoolmates and other children in balancing school work and having fun, Peets said: “I think we need to focus on our school work because there is a time and place for everything; a time to speak, a time to wake up and there is a time play so I think we have to have a limit on how we play games. We need to focus more on our school work in order to be a great scholar. I think we need to be more disciplined and we need to know when to play and when to do our school work.”

ICWI Business Development Officer Nordia Dobbs highlighted the good corporate citizen duty of the company in ensuring that the children of the Federation of St. Kitts- Nevis and by extension the Caribbean region are on the same level with other countries around the globe as it relates to technological advances as she applauded the youngsters for having now “been exposed to one of the most exciting and important fields that exists in the world today.”

According to her: “This, as it has been proven by new social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snap Chat and WhatsApp, is also the one industry that is best driven and led by young people the world over. Before your entry into the programme, none of you had any knowledge of coding but now that the exercise is over, you have become part of a small elite group of Kittitians and Nevisians with skills and competencies in coding.”

Programme Coordinator and teacher Yvette Ross, during an interview with this reporter, said the initiative was successful.

“It was successful programme; the students did enjoy it and they even went about telling their other peers and they did the activity at home. It boosts children creativity and it helps them not to just think inside the box but also outside of the box,” she outlined.

She said also that “the next step is to introduce other students to the coding skill because it’s only a few of them who did it and so the other children were eager to do it. They’ve come daily asking ‘When are we going to do it again?’ and so the next step is to introduce it to the school on a whole.”

Asked to give a comment on the advantages of children being exposed to that aspect of computer science at such young ages, Ross had this to say: “In doing things constructive with technology, it helps to boost children’s creativity because we have children who are just blunt when it comes to solving issues and in dealing with this code, it helps them to form their thinking and helps them to want to do it because number one- they wanted to finish before their peers and number two- they wanted to see what the end result would be like and it was success. In this coding, they were able to use dance  that children are familiar with so even some dance moves that I wasn’t sure about , I was able myself as a teacher to  interact with the coding game and  find myself doing the dance at home to so it was fun.”

In giving advice to parents and guardians, she talked about enhanced learning in the field of computer technology.

“Parents, I’m asking you to allow your children to broaden their horizon, don’t just stick to the book; technology is improving. Yes, there is negative and positive but more so we want to encourage them to dwell upon the positive things that will enhance their learning and even build better student character within them,” Ross stated.