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Photo via Shutterstock
Photo via Shutterstock

Just in time for the new school year this September, the city’s Department of Education (DOE) is bringing an expanded computer science program to three public elementary schools in south Queens, it was announced.

P.S. 97 in Woodhaven, P.S. 354 in Jamaica and P.S. 181 in Springfield Gardens have been added to the Software Engineering Program Junior (SEPjr) for the 2017-18 school year. The citywide program enables students from kindergarten through fifth grade to learn various computer science concepts through electronic and “unplugged” lessons.

The initiative aims to give children a jump start when it comes to learning concepts such as coding and robotics. The curriculum includes song and dance lessons that teach children about computer loops and functions, and creating “robotic friends” in class in order to complete a certain task.

SEPjr is part of the city’s “Computer Science for All,” an expansion of computer science in public elementary and high schools across the five boroughs. Through public-private partnerships, the DOE aims to have computer science in every public school by 2025.

“As we continue to expand programs like SEPjr, the AP Computer Science Principles course and other computer science pathways, we are ensuring that our kids have the skills they need to be the next generation of creators and leaders,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement on Aug. 16.

“SEPjr is a one-of-a-kind program, and it demonstrates our commitment to Computer Science for All — which means providing even our youngest learners with the opportunity to learn valuable CS concepts and improve skills like collaboration, creativity and problem-solving,” added Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña.

Raevan Askew, principal of P.S. 354, believes SEPjr has the potential to expand her students’ critical thinking skills.

“I know that this program will equip our students with the skills, both on and off the computer, that they’ll need in middle school and beyond,” Askew said.

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