Third Graders from Orchard School Learn to Code at Champlain College

Nicole Bauman assists a student with Scratch.

A group of 40 third-grade students from South Burlington, Vt., visited Champlain College on Friday, May 23 to learn from Software Technology professors how to do basic code using the program Scratch. Scratch allows user to tell stories, create games and animations within a creative learning community.

Nicole Bauman, a teacher at Orchard School, says that coding almost comes naturally for the students, and those who usually have trouble focusing in a normal classroom setting are enthralled by the integration of technology. "We often code in the classroom - a predetermined setting where students can manipulate the characters to make them move." She cited the example, Angry Birds. "Now the students are creating their stories from scratch," hence the name of the free online program.

Students in Bauman and Erin Bahrenburg's third grade classes were learning how to integrate characters, settings, motions, dialogue, and sounds, working within Scratch's catalog of "sprites," or clip art, and library of backdrops and sounds.

The two classes were divided into two state-of-the-art computer labs in Foster Hall and Miller Information Commons. The groups worked with professors in the Champlain College division of Information Technology & Science, Wei Kian Chen and Brian Hall, and then regrouped to share their stories later that morning.

A teacher's assistant helps students code using Scratch"The students feel successful when they share their work," said Bauman. They can tell their story with a visual supplement and see that they created something. Throughout the entire coding process, students were working together to help and inspire each other's stories.

"The biggest success for the event was that when the classes regrouped and showcased their work, the children were very proud of their accomplishments," said Chen.

Chen had the opportunity to work with his son, who is in Bauman's class. "My youngest students at Champlain are usually 18," he said, "And these students are under the age of 10, and yet they were able to translate their story into code after a 15-minute tutorial and an hour of work."

Each child was sent home with a USB drive that contained their work so they could show their parents. Research shows that only 4 percent of children know what a programmer does, and Chen was excited to teach 40 students how to program and integrate community outreach into his job.

Another way the College hopes to integrate this program in the future is to teach Early Childhood and Elementary Education Majors how to teach with Scratch and other programs. Since Champlain opened its MakerLab as an extension of the Emergent Media Center in the Miller Center at Lakeside Campus, an Educational Technology specialization for these programs has been in the works. "This kind of teaching should most certainly be integrated into the program," agreed Bauman.

About Educational Technology Specialization

The Educational Technology specialization is an optional part of the Early Childhood/ Elementary Teacher Education program. This specialization will give students the opportunity to focus on integrating technology into the classroom as a tool for teaching and learning, allowing them to be well versed in technology.

The important skills students develop through the 15-credit Educational Technology specialization sequence of courses will give them a tremendous advantage in the marketplace when they begin their job search, setting them apart from other prospective teachers. They can focus on Web Development, Game Design, Graphic Design, Audio/Visual, or Computer Systems. Learn more at

Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain offers a traditional undergraduate experience from its beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain and over 90 residential undergraduate and online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain's distinctive career-driven approach to higher education embodies the notion that true learning occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 384 Colleges: 2019 Edition. For the fourth year in a row, Champlain was named a "Most Innovative School" in the North by U.S. News & World Report's 2019 "America's Best Colleges,” and a “Best Value School” and is ranked in the top 100 “Regional Universities of the North” and in the top 25 for “Best Undergraduate Teaching.” Champlain is also featured in the Fiske Guide to Colleges for 2019 as one of the "best and most interesting schools" in the United States, Canada and Great Britain and is a 2019 College of Distinction. For more information, visit