It might've been the nerdiest, techiest field trip ever. A group of 50 students from Dillard Elementary in Fort Lauderdale toured the headquarters of VocabularySpellingCity.com, a local company which makes online educational tools and games which they actually use at Dillard. The kids are seeing behind the scenes, learning how the programs are made.
From 3D graphics to coding the games to quality assurance, they get a hands-on lesson in real-world applications of computer programming. The kids were asked to find mistakes in the coding, they played a math game on tablets to illustrate how the Internet works, and they even took over the customer service help line.
The idea was to use the nationwide Hour of Code movement to expose the students to a wide range of potential careers, even at their young age.
"The research says that kids will often pick their career directions in elementary school, so early exposure is really important," explained John Edelson, the founder of VocabularySpellingCity.com and its sister company, Science4Us.com. "They get to look at how we actually make educational games, not just how we code them, how we do the graphics, how we do customer support, quality assurance and web design."
The students who went on the field trip are part of their school's Super Coders Club. They design and program Lego robots for competition. Their principal, Angela Brown, said Wednesday's excursion reinforced and expanded upon the subjects the kids are learning at Dillard Elementary School.
"Our children not only need to know how to play games using technology, they need to learn how to operate technology, they need to know that they can use this technology to become successful in life later on in their careers," Brown said.
"The kids have a great time," Edelson said, explaining that his company has brought students in from several schools for the same experience. "We make it a special point of exposing them to the 3D graphics world, many of them are very artistic to begin with, and seeing a career path that comes from their interest in art is a fantastic opportunity."