STEAM at Wide Hollow

Nov 6, 2023

At Wide Hollow STEAM, Students Love Coding!

Student engage with screen-free coding using Ozobots

One Wide Hollow STEAM parent recently told us their 2nd-grade student was asked at the dentist what they love to learn at school and the student replied, “Math and coding!” The dentist was surprised and said, “Coding? Wow!” As a STEAM school the “T” stands for technology and after receiving multiple grants from OSPI for Computer Science education, Wide Hollow STEAM Elementary is meeting the goal of having all students K-5 receive an education that includes coding. Wide Hollow STEAM has used multiple modalities to teach coding and has an end goal of 5th-graders learning Python coding. The staff at Wide Hollow STEAM are cognizant of the amount of screen time students have during the day and they look for ways to teach screen-free coding lessons. Many people have questions about coding at the elementary level and here are some answers to some common questions parents and community members ask.

A 3rd-grade student works on programming a LEGO Spike project

What is coding and why is it important to learn?

Computer coding is a set of instructions a computer can understand and use to execute a task. Coding is important to learn because it enables people to create programs, applications, and websites to solve problems and create new products. Additionally, coding is an important skill in the modern job market and can help people to find jobs in the tech industry.

Is it appropriate to teach elementary-aged students coding?

Teaching coding to elementary age students is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, teaching coding can help to develop problem-solving skills, as coding involves breaking down a problem into smaller steps and finding a solution. This can help to build critical thinking skills that are important for a variety of tasks. Furthermore, coding can help to improve memory and concentration, as coding requires the memorization of commands and instructions. Additionally, coding can help to develop creativity and innovation, as it involves using the computer code to create something new. Finally, coding can open up opportunities for students to explore various career paths, as coding skills are in demand in many industries. By the end of this school year, the 5th-grade students at Wide Hollow STEAM will have been introduced to Python coding, which will help prepare them for upper-level Computer Science courses.

Wide Hollow STEAM students code and fly a Tell-O drone

Is it possible to teach coding without increasing screen time?

Yes, it is possible to teach coding in a screen free manner. One way to do this is through the use of physical coding cards. These cards contain instructions for coding and can be used to teach coding without the need for a screen. Additionally, physical coding activities such as having students build a tower out of blocks can also be used to teach coding concepts without the use of a screen.

First-grade students practice

Is it appropriate to teach elementary students Python coding?

Yes, elementary students should learn Python coding. Python is a great language for students to learn due to its simple syntax and readability. It is also a powerful language that can be used to build applications, process data, and much more. Learning Python can help students become more creative and better problem solvers, while also providing them with a valuable skill that can be used in many different areas.

What are the platforms and devices Wide Hollow STEAM uses to teach coding?


Ozobots are small, programmable robots designed to introduce coding and robotics. They use lights, sensors, and algorithms to detect and respond to lines, colors, and codes. Ozobots are used to teach coding and robotics in a fun and interactive way.

Photo of an Ozobot that is loading the code that a student wrote on an Ipad

Scratch and Scratch Jr.

Scratch is a visual programming language developed by MIT and designed to help young people learn coding. It uses a drag-and-drop interface for users to create stories, games, and animations by snapping together graphical blocks representing different commands and functions. This helps to make coding accessible to a wide range of users, regardless of their prior programming experience. By using Scratch, users can learn coding concepts such as variables, loops, conditionals, and algorithms. Scratch also provides a community where users can share their projects and get feedback from other users. Scratch Jr. is a version of Scratch for our youngest learners.

A screen shot of the Scratch drag-and-drop interface

LEGO Spike

LEGO Spike is a programmable robot designed by LEGO Education which teaches students the basics of coding and computational thinking. The robot is programmed using a drag-and-drop graphical programming language, making coding accessible to students of all ages and abilities. Students can use the robot to explore their environment, create stories, and even solve problems. The robot also has a range of sensors and can respond to commands, providing students with an interactive way to learn the basics of coding.

Screen shot of the LEGO Spike drag-and-drop interface

Bee Bots

Bee Bots are small, programmable robots that help teach coding basics to children. They feature a simple keypad with a directional pad that allows kids to input commands, such as “go forward”, “turn left”, and “turn right”. Using these commands, kids can create a program that will direct the Bee Bot to move through a specific path or complete a specific task. This helps children develop problem solving and critical thinking skills. Additionally, the Bee Bot can be used to introduce more complex programming concepts such as loops and conditionals.

A student with a Bee Bot in an early learning classroom


Kodable is an educational software program designed to teach coding to children. It offers a game-based and visual learning approach to coding that allows kids to learn coding concepts in an engaging, educational, and fun way. The program introduces coding concepts such as sequencing, loops, and conditionals, and teaches them through interactive lessons, puzzles, and games. Kodable also offers a lesson builder for teachers, allowing them to customize lessons for their students.


Kubo is another screen-free coding platform that teaches young learners to code. It uses a visual programming language and intuitive block-based coding to help young learners understand the basics of coding. Kubo's lessons are designed to be fun and engaging, while also teaching important coding concepts. Through interactive tutorials and mini-projects, learners can gain a strong foundation for coding and programming.

Tell-O Drones

Tell-O drones teach coding through interactive game-play. The drones come with a coding app that allows users to program their drone to fly, interact with objects, and even complete challenges. Through the app, users can give their drones commands like “fly forward” or “spin in a circle” and watch as the drone follows their commands. The challenges in the app also help users understand how coding works, as they must program the drone to complete a task. In addition, Tell-O provides tutorials and other educational resources to help users learn more about coding.

Students with a Tell-O Drone at Wide Hollow STEAM