Kids Show Off Their Coding Skills At The Florida Capitol

Mar 19, 2019

16-year-old Emily Perez is a sophomore at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee. She shows Governor Ron DeSantis her work during Coding Day at the capitol.
Credit Governor's Press Office

Tuesday was Coding Day at the capitol as part of an initiative to promote computer science education.

Students, some in elementary school, are lined up at computers getting ready to show off their work to state leaders.

“We need more computer scientists. We need more data scientists, and in the state of Florida alone there are 8,000 computing jobs open, not necessarily all for computer scientists," says Mary Snapp, Corporate Vice President of Philanthropies for Microsoft. "Some of them are for individuals who might have a philosophy degree or a poetry degree and take a one-year certificate class.”

Coding is also known as computer programming. It refers to lines of code that contain instructions for everything from websites to video games to cars.

Sen. Manny Diaz (R-Hialeah Gardens) chairs the Senate education committee and has a background as a teacher and school administrator. He says kids are intuitively able to understand coding, but they need adults who can teach them.

“One of the major thrusts that we have to have in the state is to make sure that we have our teachers trained properly to teach computer science," Diaz says. "Ten years ago when you talked about computer science, you were talking about a teacher who was basically teaching keyboarding and very soft computer skills.  We have to make sure that the folks that we have in the classroom today are able to teach actual computer science to prepare these kids for jobs.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis says he’s ready to put up the money for teacher training. His proposed budget includes the creation of a program to pay for training and bonuses for teachers who pursue certifications in computer science.

“It’s not just relevant if you want to work at Microsoft. Obviously it is. But a lot of businesses now that would not have 20 years ago been considered technology companies really have a huge technology component," DeSantis says. "Finance, product development, I mean you name it, there is a technology and a computer science component. These skills are going to be suited for jobs going forward for the foreseeable future.”

DeSantis wants Florida to lead the way. His administration is promoting the importance of workforce education and technical skills. He’s also calling for computer science to count as a science credit toward high school graduation.