Students dig into coding class
In the class, students learn the basics of Python, a widely used computer programming language, and also get to build apps using MIT App Inventor.

By the end of the class, Rushing said students should feel comfortable with basic coding and be ready to move on to more complicated coding projects.

Friday Rushing's students were using an application called Notepad + + to create and manipulate a basic webpage. Rushing gave them some guidance at the beginning of class, and the students took things from there, working in pairs and sometimes answering their own or each other's questions without having to ask Rushing.

"These kids are very hands-on," Rushing said. "They need to be able to do stuff and figure things out for themselves. They pick up on stuff. I can stand up here and make a mistake, and they've got it figured out before I can go back and fix it."

One of the questions Rushing was asked during his training was what he would do once his kids knew more than he did. He said that at that point, he'd start learning from them.

"They have more understanding and patience a lot of times with this stuff, because they're digital natives," he said. "They've grown up with it. They have it in their hands all the time. I knew the kids would love this, because this is what they do."

The underlying goal of Rushing's coding class and other science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) initiatives popping up in area schools is to spark students' interest in STEM fields early. There are so many high-paying, STEM-related jobs out there, Rushing said, and there aren't enough people to fill them.

Schools like Paducah Middle are putting extra effort into encouraging all kids, especially girls, to take STEM classes like Rushing's coding course.

"It's not gender-specific by any means," Rushing said. "We're trying to show them, you can do this, and this is a good-paying career to get into. And they love it. The girls are just as much into it as the boys are."

One of Rushing's eighth grade students, Dalia Lemus, said she's enjoyed learning how things like websites are made, breaking them down and looking behind the scenes of things she uses every day.

"I just like seeing how apps are made, how it all works," added Lemus' deskmate, Emily Krall. "The science of it is interesting, computer science. It's so interesting, because if you look at a webpage, this is all the code that goes into it."

Krall pointed to a series of html tags and language typed out on her laptop within the Notepad + + program. To most, it would look like complete gibberish. But to her, it made all the sense in the world.

"There's really not much to it, what goes into a web page," she said.
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