Economy

About 90 fifth-graders streamed into the library of Blue Lick Elementary School in South Louisville for a different kind of lesson on Tuesday morning.

Eleven-year-old Julianna Hayes was one of them.

“Today, we’re learning about coding and changing code,” she said.

Instructors from Google dropped by the elementary school to teach fourth- and fifth-grade classes how to write computer code. The company’s goal, it says, is to teach students the joy of STEM through its free program, Google Computer Science First.

And if kids aren’t lucky enough for instructors from the tech giant to stop by their school for a few hours, the program is also available online.

Roxanne Scott | wfpl.org

Julianna Hayes

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville also attended the event.

“The earlier and the more students can learn about science and coding, the better they’re going to be able to embrace computers as part of their everyday existence,” he said, “and possibly see it as a career path.”

The workforce development group KentuckianaWorks says in its first quarterly report of the year, software developers and computer occupations are among the top-five job postings that pay above a family supporting wage. There were almost 400 job postings for programmers and developers in Louisville in the past three months. Wages ranged between about $32-$46 per hour for a someone with a bachelor’s degree.

Events like this are designed to get kids to play games on laptops — but they’re also about longer-term thinking.

“I think ultimately these type of events have to be incorporated as a part of the curriculum,” Yarmuth said.

Fifth-grader Jasmine Hafling is undecided on what she wants to be when she grows up. But she has quite a few interests so far.

“I’ve always wanted to be a photographer,” she said. “But I like singing, I like soccer and I like cheerleading.”  

And there’s one other career she’s considering.

“I’ve always been interested in technology,” Hafling said. “Like someday I might want to design video games or be video game designer.”

Roxanne Scott covers the economy for WFPL News.