Boys of e-STEAM Carnival Troupe Get Intro to Coding

Everette Ryan explains the importance of closing tags and syntax. (Education Department photo)

Young revelers from the Department of Education’s Boys of eSTEAM carnival troupe were treated to a Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics workshop, where they learned how to build websites using Hypertext Markup Language or HTML.

The hands-on session took place at the Claude O. Markoe Elementary School on Jan. 3, one day before the troupe made its debut at the Crucian Christmas Festival Children’s Parade.

Students practiced problem-solving skills as they examined the intricacies of syntax, and employed critical reading and writing skills to construct their sites.

St. Croix District Technology Coordinator Everette Ryan and Department of Education STEM Director Shamika Williams-Henley and Elementary Programs Coordinator Jeselle Cruz-Peter delivered the two-hour coding workshop. Ryan shared the need for students to become more immersed in coding concepts.

“We need to move students from just being consumers of technology to being creators,” Ryan said. “This is where the coding comes in. The students can create their own apps and websites and things that have more authentic meaning in the real world. We want to help them develop these skills. So now they are more engaged because they are not just consuming, they are building and creating.”

Ryan said coding is also an opportunity for educators to get students more engaged with other topics like English.

“When we teach HTML, the students have to read, write, and use critical thinking, recognize patterns, and troubleshoot all at once,” he said. Ryan said, for example, a webpage could be created “around a social studies concept or to present a science project. It gets the students more engaged with the content versus making a PowerPoint.”

Students like fourth-grader Ahmali Benjamin practiced HTML by building their own websites and adding visual content to it. Ahmali said the activity made him more confident to try to learn other coding languages.

“This is my first time coding, but now I want to do other types of coding, like to build video games,” he said. “I would like to build racing games and fighting games because those are my favorites.”
The group of 17 students participated in the Children’s Parade the following day as characters from their favorite video games, such as Super Mario, Minecraft, and Fortnite.