computer science middle school

#CurrentMoodGratitude for Ms. Karma Turner

'Can I Stay and Code?' Ask the students of Lake Hamilton


Karma Turner

Lake Hamilton Jr. High

Pearcy, Arkansas

Karma Turner has been teaching math for 21 years. In 2015, governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, passed legislation for all schools in Arkansas to provide computer science education to all high school students—Karma stepped up to bring computer science to her school.

Karma began the search for high quality, interesting curriculum for her 8th graders in the second year of the program. Her thoughts were, "If students hate coding when they're introduced to it in 7th grade, they're not going to want to pursue it later on." She wanted to find something "interesting to kids, but not too far above their head that they would lose interest". 

She investigated many programs until she found Vidcode. "The layout of Vidcode lessons and the general attractiveness of the lessons are a real positive for me," Ms. Turner mentioned. "The final aspect that swayed my decision to go with Vidcode is the fact that Vidcode is developed and founded by a team of bright women. Their perspective on how to make coding attractive to girls and all students was a very important part of my decision. Also, the fact that students can use their own media in their projects is a big plus. With Vidcode, I'm sure I've found the program that meets my needs and wants."

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"With Vidcode, I'm sure I've found the program that meets my needs and wants"

Karma teaches two semester-long classes where she teaches an Arkansas-specific program called Coding Arkansas' Future. She also teaches a 5 week coding block to all 325 8th grade students with Vidcode. This year, her challenge was making the coding block interesting to reach all 325 students—it certainly can be hard to capture the attention of every personality in the 8th grade! Karma said, "This challenge is best met with Vidcode! I feel my successes are often and many! The fact that I'm able to expose so many students to coding in an inviting and interesting environment is a great accomplishment." She uses Vidcode in 45 minute blocks with 50 students at a time. 50 students is a large number, but she and her team teacher, Nikki Aitkin are thriving.

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I feel my successes are often and many! The fact that I'm able to expose so many students to coding in an inviting and interesting environment is a great accomplishment."

Recently, one of Karma's coding block students asked if he could stay an additional 20 minutes after class—digging not into another class, but rather, lunch! Karma encouraged him to eat lunch, but said, "He REALLY wanted to keep coding!"

The enthusiasm is infectious—another student said she felt like she felt like she was, "Really hacking something!" As we know, shifting perceptions of self is crucial for young students, so to Karma, Nikki, and the Lake Hamilton team, we are so grateful for your work! You are making a massive impact on your students and we are thrilled to continue following your story.


To learn more about bringing coding to your school, let's chat. Simply reach out below:

Teaching Students to Code at the 92Y

Starting in the summer of 2015 and continuing through 2016-17, New York’s 92nd Street Y teamed with Vidcode to introduce the educational tool to local children with a passion for technology as part of their workshop program.  While aimed at younger students, many adult teachers were quickly grateful for the fun lessons that they, too, are able to take part in.

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“Personally, I am always looking for ways to use technology creatively,” said Kelly Saxton, an educator who oversaw the Vidcode classes.  “Any time you give students a voice, or an opportunity for self-expression, the learning outcome is incredible.  If, for example, you enable a student to learn through creating something from their own mind, they will retain that information easier and stronger.  It immediately becomes more real, eliminating the drudgery and replacing it with creativity – and I love that.  With Vidcode, that esthetic was at work, and I think that the kids gravitated towards learning [the coding programs] because of it.”

The Vidcode summer intensive workshop launched less one year after Vidcode became available.  Educators associated with the camp were immediately drawn to the app’s functions and quickly joined forces to meet their own initiatives: teaching Javascript, “the "language of the web," through creative video projects.  Located on Lexington Avenue in the heart of New York City, the week-long intensive was comprised of five core lessons – and was successful enough that the organizers again teamed with Vidcode the following year.

“The 92Y already offered other creative programs, such as comic art and sculpture,” Saxton continued.  “But Vidcode offered something unlike we had ever had before. I had been teaching digital media for some time and was excited to try their ‘pre-existing framework,’” which you could then turn into anything you’d like, for myself. The students immediately loved the Vidcode modules which showed how animation works, and proved to be an amazing introduction for the kids to learn code.”

Vidcode’s learning curve is primarily based on teaching Javascript in a fun, game-like way.  The app’s state-of-the-art interface teaches the Javascript coding language through lessons built around creative art projects.  Once viewed as a sophisticated and difficult tech language to comprehend, Javascript is instantly demystified by Vidcode’s unique program initiatives – creating video filters, JavaScript libraries, and HTML5 to control how each user’s video will look.  

By playfully creating music videos, short animation clips, and movie special effects, kids and adults alike instantly pick up the skills needed to learn sophisticated coding practices. All of the young students who participated in the workshops stated that their favorite elements of Vidcode’s the user-friendly modules included movie-making, stop-motion animation, and the opportunity to instantly view their final projects in the app’s interface.  

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Thanks to the program, all of the students walked away from the experience, eager to learn more advanced techniques in coding and application creation.  

“The kids were able to understand pretty sophisticated concepts immediately,” Saxton added.  “Normally, it would take a little while for anyone to learn the syntax and more-advanced technology of coding and animation, but with Vidcode, they were hands-on and able to create things within in minutes.  I thought that it could even be an amazing learning tool for adults, as well.”

As an education tool, the young students – all of whom were novices in the world of coding and digital creation – quickly learned such necessities as variables, arrays, and various application functions, while retaining the advanced information due to Vidcode’s almost video-game like appeal.