Cavazos Coding Team Competes

Fifth-grade computer coding team at Cavazos Elementary
By: Todd Martin
Computer coding is taking on the exciting, competitive elements of athletics for a new team at Cavazos Elementary School that is competing well against larger teams of older students across 13 states.
So new it doesn’t have a completely official name, the “Cavazos Cheetahs Coderz” are 13 teacher-chosen fifth-graders who gather for an hour a day to work through coding challenges in the Cyber Robotics Coding Competition.
The CRCC completed its boot camp phase and entered a series of competition phases.
Through two weeks of mission-based coding, the Cavazos fifth-graders fluctuated between 12th and 13th place among 41 schools in a region that stretches from Texas to North Dakota.
Each day, students can watch the standings change as coding competitors across the middle of the country work on the challenges.
Perhaps the most interesting part is that the Cavazos group is the only elementary school in the mix and they are holding steady at 12th place among 41 teams with three rounds of competitions to go.

As the session closed Tuesday, the Cavazos team stood in fifth place.
Many of the teams have well over 100 players on their roster, but the local fifth-graders are scoring high with 90 percent mission completion.
Their coach, Cavazos campus technology support specialist Leigh Frishman is thrilled with his hard-working students.
“We have 13 kids and some of these teams have more than 100,” he said, pointing out the ever-changing rankings displayed in the school’s computer lab where the team members worked Wednesday on the day’s challenges. “These are all fifth-graders.”
The school technologist, a longtime area robotics coach received an email about the coding competition, looked into it and eventually signed on for a two-week trial. Cavazos fifth-grade teachers bought into the idea and started sending capable students to the group.
“It’s really cool and creative,” said fifth-grader Ava Dawkins as she worked through a coding mission similar to a computer game. “I thought it was hard at first, but then I thought ‘I can do this.’”
The so-called “boot camp,” a sort of training competition ends this week and the next phase starts Saturday. Since the event is cloud-based, students can work on it away from school.

Fifth-grader Jonathan Guzman, one of two students on the team that finished the 44 initial missions without an error spends time assisting his teammates.
“What I really like is that it is a challenge and it’s fun,” he said. “It makes you think harder.”
“I’ve always liked coding,” said fifth-grader Christina Brown. “I like how the blocks go together like a puzzle to figure out. I think it’s pretty cool.”
Several students said they had learned the basics of coding in games, but learned a ton more when they started meeting daily and working through the competitive missions.
“I’m pretty surprised,” Guzman said of his 100 percent finish on the coding challenges. “I couldn’t do it the first time. The second time I did better. It’s very fun to help people. They are thinking harder, too.”
The students understand they are learning an important skill that makes their computers, their parents’ cell phones and most all electronics function.
Their coach thinks it’s pretty great that these students will get to tell future prospective employers they started coding in fifth grade.
“They are learning Java like it’s a game and it’s fun and interesting for them,” Frishman said. “They are competing against each other and these 41 schools.”
“We can get first place,” Guzman said. “It’s just about the thinking.”