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School With Cutting Edge Coding Program Has Ancient Computers

 P.S./M.S. 282 wants to expand its coding curriculum, but the school's computers are out-of-date.
School with Cutting Edge Coding Program Has Out-of-Date Computers
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PARK SLOPE — Their lessons are cutting edge, but their equipment is Stone Age.

Students as young as 8 are learning computer programming at P.S./M.S. 282 on Sixth Avenue and Lincoln Place thanks to the school's participation in programs like Hour of Code, Scratch Day, Codesters and HTINK.

The school's new principal wants to bring coding to all of its 1,000 students, but P.S./M.S. 282 faces a daunting challenge: it has too few computers and many of them are ancient, said PTO co-president Andrew Marshall.

"It's funny, there are a lot of agencies out there that want to promote coding in schools, but poorer schools have this hurdle to get across — aging hardware," Marshall said. "The existing PCs are old and obsolete. If they turn on at all, you're fortunate."

The school's parent organization recently launched an online fundraising campaign to collect $10,000 to buy 30 new Chromebooks. The new machines would be a drastic improvement, Marshall said.

P.S./M.S. 282 now makes do with 48 older laptops that move from room to room on carts so all classes can share them. School leaders would use some of the new Chromebooks to create a mini computer lab in the school's library and outfit each classroom with two to three machines.

Right now the school library has four Dell desktops that date back to around the mid-2000's. Two of them don't work, and the ones that do are extremely slow and have spotty Internet connections, said Marshall, who's the father of a third-grader and is an IT consultant for tech companies.

The school's outdated and scant tech equipment can barely keep pace with kids' enthusiasm for coding, Marshall said.

“Kids are always asking, when is coding coming back?” Marshall said. “Because we have low numbers of laptops, kids have to share. They’re learning to work together, but we’d get a lot more done if each kid had their own laptop.”

Children in third through eighth grade have learned to write basic programs to solve algebra problems, help them with geometry and create animation for movies. P.S./M.S. 282's coding curriculum puts the school at the fore of the growing movement to bring high-tech experiences into classrooms and equip students with marketable skills.

“We hope to be the first K-8 school in the city with coding in every grade," said parent Rob Underwood. "Someone has to be first. Why not us? We just don't have the laptops."