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Coding for the rest of us

If the very thought of trying your hand at computer programming or writing software code is intimidating, Dr. Jonathan Wade has got an event for you.


The Carolina Coding Initiative will launch next week with two free beginner programming classes aimed at novices. The CCI launch is from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9 at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching at Western Carolina University. The public is welcome, and children age 9 and up may attend with an adult.

The two beginner programming courses start at 4:30 p.m. and will be followed by a reception at 5:30 p.m. that will provide a glimpse into the work of Western Carolina University and Southwestern Community College students who have been taking programming courses.

“We want to try and convince people that we all need a certain level of coding literacy. Something is happening underneath that graphic interface that we can try to understand,” Wade said.

Wade is the director of programs at NCCAT and has a background in the humanities. He came up with the idea for CCI after following, a national initiative to introduce 10 million American students to coding. 

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“I’m a parent of an elementary and a high school student, and I’m concerned that we relegate programming to computer technology curriculums, as opposed to using it in other classes,” said Wade. “I like this idea of letting humans interact with computers, where they write the majority of the code.”

Wade encouraged those who may be interested in attending CCI to visit and try their hand at the site’s version of the popular “Angry Birds” game, which allows users to use a “drag and drop” program to write their own code for the game.

The Monday launch is also tied to the new mission of NCCAT, said Wade. The teacher education center has been revamped, and one of its directives is to help educators improve their technical skills so that they can pass on that knowledge to students. In addition to the CCI launch, there are other classes and seminars geared toward educators.

“We’re also encouraging teachers to take an hour during the week of Dec. 9 to 15 to teach their students about coding,” Wade said. 

Wade said he hopes CCI attendees have two takeaways from the event.

“One, you’ll get to see what’s being done in our region by people who are putting their energies into programming. And two, I hope people walk away saying, ‘Oh, it’s not that huge monster I’ve always feared,’” said Wade.


Carolina Coding Initiative Launch Event at NCCAT

Where: North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching in Cullowhee

When: Dec. 9, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

How much: Free classes on Dec. 9 (Monday)

• Progranimate – 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at NCCAT Computer Lab. An introduction for beginners to a basic coding platform that can be used by coders at all levels.

• Scratch and Python – 4:30 5:30 p.m. at NCCAT Room 132. A simple introduction to two different languages: Scratch and Python.  

• Reception and Technology Demos – 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at NCCAT. Demonstrations of the latest technology created by WCU and SCC students, along with free food.

Open to the public. Children age 9-15 are welcome when accompanied by an adult. Spaces are limited in the classes, so pre-register at:

NCCAT will also host Computer Science Student Expositions from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 10-11. 

Training for teachers is available on, and NCCAT is offering three training sessions from Dec. 2-4. Teachers can register at:

For more information about any of these events, please contact Dr. Jonathan Wade at 828.293.5202.

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