OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Walking into the workshop at Ocean Springs Central Office on Thursday, a person likely wouldn't assume that teachers were learning about computer programming.
With songs, dances, and dozens of online games, the workshop was an effort between Mississippi State University, the State Department of Education, and CODE.org to bring programming to class in a fun way.
"It's game-ified, and they're thinking in algorithms. It's sequential, logical thinking to solve a problem," said Kenny Langley, project coordinator for the Research and Curriculum Unit at Mississippi State University.
Mixing physical games and an online platform featuring dozens of computer games, the method was designed to teach programming to a young audience. It's exactly what Langley hopes will take hold in schools throughout the state.
Langley calls computer programming essential, and believes the Coast is well on its way to making it an integral part of the curriculum.
"If you think about technology's role in our lives, it's become as important as any of the other core subject areas," said Langley.
Langley helped coordinate the week-long workshop that brought a handful of Coast and area districts together. Teachers say they see the potential of the lessons.
"They're learning computer skills younger and younger, at a younger age," said Traci Breland, a teacher at South Forrest Attendance Center. "This will fit in and give them a sense of direction,"
Kellye Bolar from Ocean Springs Upper Elementary says the lessons will go beyond the classroom.
"I think it's going to be really awesome for [students]. They'll be able to go home and teach their parents, and teach their friends, and they'll be able to log in to CODE.org and create some codes of their own," said Bolar.
And who knows, maybe the lessons will create a whole new generation of computer programmers. The effort is a pilot program for the state Department of Education. So far, 38 districts in the state have signed on, including a handful on the Coast.