How Python Coding is Changing Career Tech Education

The best part of my job is supporting teachers as they step outside their comfort zone. For some teachers, that means letting their students lead them down paths that interest them. For others, that means learning text-based coding for the first time. Creating tools with Python is not just “trendy,” it’s a skill that will serve our students forever. Firia Labs creates curricula that teaches career-ready skills. These skills serve students whether they are working for career certifications in high school or continuing their education in higher ed.

Pam Crumpton teaches Electronics and Robotics to ninth through twelfth graders at Lawrence County Career Technical Center in Moulton, Alabama. One mission of the LCCTC is to maintain an educational environment which provides the opportunity for skills training and prepares the students of Lawrence County to compete in a highly technological and global economy. Students come to LCCTC from each of the four high schools in Lawrence County. Mrs. Crumpton’s students take courses such as DC circuits, AC circuits, Intro to Robotics, Robotics Applications, Semiconductors, and Digital Electronics. “These are kids who are interested in hands-on careers with electronics. They can get certifications here through different groups. It may be a career-readiness indicator that they get. They can go either from high school to career, or high school to college. We have students who go straight to [a] career and some who decide they want to go further and go through to college.” 

Lawrence County houses Lockheed Martin, Jack Daniels Cooperage (barrel-making facility), and Nucor Steel. “They’ve partnered with our classroom and they do a lot to help us at our school. Our industry partners come in and talk about the skills they’re learning in class and how those skills will apply to what they do at those facilities.”

Mrs. Crumpton began using CodeBot with Python for the first time this year. “I started out when I got the CodeBot through going to ALACTE. I wasn’t sure how I would implement just one CodeBot and so I started with [Felicia] and I knew she would do well and could figure things out and would give me suggestions.”

“I saw that CodeBot met a need for her. It helped her develop her interest in computer programming. Felicia has let me know that she’s interested in that and she’s interested in a computer [programming] career. CodeBot gave her a little more challenge than what we were doing in class.” 

Felicia agreed, “It was a good experience for me to learn about Python programming. When I first started learning programming on my own, I’d go online and go through lessons. But it really wouldn’t stick with me. But the hands-on [projects] stick with me. I think it’s important to expose kids to programming, because it's a really important field, even in the future with developing technology.”

Every part of the implementation process has been considered, from pacing, standards alignment, lesson plans, assessment, and even cross-curricular activities. “The great thing about CodeBot is it goes right along with our courses of study and even meets some of the literacy standards,” Mrs. Crumpton said. “It’s just all around; it’s been great for my classroom. The fact that it’s standards-aligned is very important. This is my first year teaching career tech; I’m not as familiar with the standards as what I was for math. Even in math and science, CodeBot could be incorporated to help teachers who wanted to push their students a little bit further.”

"Teachers without programming experience can successfully implement CodeBot in their classroom."

Mrs. Crumpton agrees that teachers without programming experience can successfully implement CodeBot in their classroom. “[Felicia] did the lessons independently. As she was going through the lessons, I stood over her shoulder and watched what she was doing. I’m learning as they do! I was able to do some of the lessons and I’ve never programmed. I don’t have any programming background at all. I was able to do several of the lessons and successfully make my CodeBot do what it was supposed to do. I was very excited, like a kid with a new toy!”

“Definitely implement [CodeSpace] into your program. It will spark an interest in your students. It will help teachers like me who have limited to no programing background. [CodeSpace] is just a great program. Hands-on, and to see the success of your students is great. I’ve got a class of students, and they see one person working on CodeBot and their progress it’s like, ‘When do I get my turn with CodeBot?’’ 

Mrs. Crumpton was excited to win an AMSTI (Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative) Robotics grant to get more CodeBots for her classroom because of Firia Labs’ budget-friendly approach. “Some of the other programming things that I’ve looked at, you have to pay extra. You can buy the [hardware] but then you have to pay extra for the programming software. With CodeBot, the programming software is included.”