Code in formation: New York City teachers are using Beyonce to learn JavaScript

bey script beyonce code computer science
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Who would be better at teaching people how to get code in formation than Beyoncé? That’s what one educator asked herself when she was looking for a way to teach JavaScript.

While the singing superstar is not directly teaching people how to code, computer science educator Emily Thomforde is teaching Bey Script, a computational metaphor she developed that uses Beyoncé to teach nontechnical educators such as English and history teachers in New York City how to use JavaScript and teach it to their students. The three-session course is held throughout the year.

In computer science, a “metaphor” helps a user understand how certain computational procedures work by using an entity the user is familiar with. “If you imagine Beyoncé were an object we’re using in JavaScript, her ‘methods’ are things that she can do, like sing and dance,” Thomforde told Motherboard. “I relate all these arcane, technical, traditionally geeky things into ways my audience can relate to, and we found Beyonce was super-relatable.”

In the course, Thomforde teaches Javascript concepts such as “Properties” using things everyone can easily visualize, like Beyonce’s internationally revered and illusive hair. “Now we have ‘beyonce.hair’, since hair is a property of Beyoncé. What’s a thing about her hair that can change? Now we have ‘beyonce.hair.color’. Then we can set it equal to something: ‘beyonce.hair.color=red.'”

The Bey Script course is part of the New York City Foundation for Computer Science Education’s (CSNYC) 10-year, $80 million initative to provide every public school student with computer science education. Thomforde is currently writing the curriculum for Vidcode, an online platform that teaches teenagers to code. In May, Vidcode collaborated with the New York City Department of Education to host a hackathon event where 150 kids were tasked with using Vidcode to learn how to use Javascript to make a video that helps abandoned animals currently living in shelters.

With President Obama pledging $4 billion to make sure every kid across America gets computer science education, it may not be long before kids are making Lemonade on their computers.

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