Embracing the future

Southeast students develop apps, build websites

YODER – Inside many seemingly ordinary classrooms throughout Goshen County, teachers and students are making extraordinary strides in the computer science realm. Southeast High School is no exception.
“In order to be competitive in the job market, knowing how a computer works and not just knowing how to work a computer, is important,” teacher Craig Leithead said.
Last week, his class completed various puzzles and games in the accelerated coding program on non-profit website, Code.org. Using concepts learned from the website and in class, students are responsible for either developing a website or creating an app – an application, or computer program, usually designed to run on a mobile device such as a phone or tablet – as their final project.
“All of it is their choice,” Leithead explained. “It’s based on a certain rubric, (and) their choice of what they create.”
This is Leithead’s first year teaching computer science and applications at Southeast, and the first time these courses have been offered at the school. Leithead said students “absolutely” seemed to be engaged in the subject matter.
“About half of the students are now considering computer science as a career,” he said. “Two came in hating computers.”
“It’s really interesting, actually,” Zeb Heggem, one such student who started the program with little interest in computers, said. “It’s creating – telling the computer what to do.”
Heggem, a junior, hopes to pursue a career in the automotive industry, and is currently developing an app designed to plug into the computer on a vehicle and “tell it what to do.”
“Instead of scanning the computer on the car and having it tell you what’s wrong (as when using a diagnostic tool), this will replace the computer program on the car entirely and tell the car what to do every single step,” Heggem said.
“That’s a relevant piece of equipment,” Leithead added.
Other ongoing projects include game apps, as developed by Darby Beightol, and a baking website, courtesy of Breann Pauls.
“I’m building a baking website. It has recipes, a food blog, all things I’ve made – my favorite recipes,” Pauls said. A quick run-through of the site indicated a descriptive and personalized home page and clickable photos that lead to detailed recipes, including coffee cake, crème brülée, cinnamon rolls, and Fanny fudge brownies.
“I didn’t really know very much about website building, but now that I’ve started, I know it’s really not that complicated,” Pauls said. “That’s why I signed up for the class. I wanted to know how to make my own website and learn about how the internet works.
“This is something we’re going to use the rest of our lives,” she said. “Technology is just exploding.”

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