The Youth Coding League is an after-school program for middle school students (5th and 6th grades) and junior high school students (7th and 8th grades) using Google's CS First curriculum and the Scratch programming language.
The Youth Coding League provides support to schools with stipends and training for teachers, dedicated Youth Coding League staff, and an innovative, competitive element and dedicated website at YouthCodingLeague.com.
A competitive postseason includes prizes for Technical Merit, Community Favorite, Regular Season Top Scorer, and Most Improved prizes.
The Youth Coding League enjoys a 50/50 female/male split in participants. Meanwhile, the software development industry average is 20/80 female/male.
They instill logical thinking and problem-solving skills, empowering kids to take part in the digital workplace of the future.
They help kids improve academically, teaching them to solve problems and set themselves up for future success with in-demand skills.
They are widely applicable, 21st-century skills that contribute to a well-rounded, academically comprehensive student.
During each session of the CS First Curriculum, coders can earn up to 60 points and track their progress and compete against other players and teams across the league. Coders can earn points by attending the Youth Coding League, by documenting what they learned, participating in the curriculum by watching the instructional videos, completing the stated objectives, getting creative and going farther than the objectives, and by completing their work within the set amount of time. Regular season top scorers are awarded at the conclusion of the semester.
After completing eight sessions of the CS First curriculum, coders team up to create a group project based on a simple prompt. Each school votes in a playoff round for which project will be their champion. One project from each school goes on to the championship round, where they compete for top spots against projects from across Southeast Missouri. Students can also win based on technical proficiency, and by showing the greatest amount of improvement. Big prizes, like computers and cash, motivate coders to strive for excellence.
"I knew that if given a chance, my students could be successful not just at basketball but with keeping up with the 21st century skills they so desperately need. I also knew that THIS opportunity could open doors for my students. It could inspire, motivate, challenge, and change students.
"I wanted to take a moment to try and explain the changes I have seen in my students who were in YCL. I have students that I’ve barely heard their voices. Faces who just float in and out of school, doing well, but just going to the motions day to day. I have seen students with severe behavior and anger issues try and make good choices so they can stay in YCL. I’ve seen students who have had attendance issues WANT to come to school. I’ve seen students who barely smile burst into laughter! I’ve seen students who did not fit in find their niche. Students who were shy are more open and outgoing. Students who have had issues with their grades or keeping up with their work be proud of themselves because their grades have improved. Those are just some of the changes. Changes directly related to being in YCL."
- Cristy Crites, teacher and Youth Coding League facilitator, Scott County Central Schools