LOGAN SQUARE — When 9-year-old Yahir Castrejon plays an online game called Tynker, his eyes light up.
"I like it because it helps us learn how to solve puzzles," said Yahir, adding that the skills could help kids "find more work" in the future.
Yahir and his fellow classmates at Chase Elementary School, 2021 N. Point St., participated in this year's installment of "Hour of Code," a computer science movement that has gone global.
The movement, which has spread to more than 180 countries, allows students to learn about the basics of computer coding through online tutorials and games like Tynker.
Though some teachers at Chase have taught coding here and there over the past few years, this was the first year that the entire 457-student body participated in a coding event, according to fifth-grade teacher Eric Runyan.
Christine Dussault, a bilingual teacher at Chase, was the driving force behind bringing coding to the school, which has been hit hard by budget cuts. Chase enrolls mostly low-income Hispanic students.
"At Chase, we don't have a library or art class anymore. So we have these wonderful, super important classes taken away from our kids. How can we continue to use what we do have to level the playing field for our students?" she said.
The week-long coding program culminated in an assembly Friday afternoon where about 150 students in both lower and upper grades convened for a presentation and awards.
Runyan, who has been teaching at the school for 17 years, said the benefits of the program are simple.
"I think more than anything, it's another way to [learn] how to be detail-oriented. It's about following a very specific set of directions," Runyan said.
"I had some volunteers come in and they said they didn't start coding until they were in college, so the fact that we have fifth-graders learning how to repeats and loops ... it blew them away."
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