Local middle school students experiencing advanced classes

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Students across the Las Vegas valley are learning that their futures are at their fingertips.

The Trump administration recently set aside $200 million a year for grants to schools to offer more science, technology, engineering and math classes.

Southern Nevada is seeing some of that money.

Some 20 Clark County School District schools in the valley are recipients of federal grants allowing them to expand their electives to some pretty advanced classes.

“You are going to be testing somebody else’s video game and giving them feedback on it,” said Andrew Chicvara, computer science teacher, Cashman Middle School.

This sounds like something you might hear in Silicon Valley.

“That’s going to help you make your video game better.”

But it’s happening at Cashman Middle School.

The students are coding everything from video games to apps.

“I made a game but I didn’t really like it so I re-did it,” said Aaron Castillo, 7th grader.

Castillo says, at times, it can be hard but he likes a challenge.

“If you don’t get something, you can keep on trying until you get it and it’s a really exciting feeling when you finally get it.”

Classmate Lauryn Thompson loves the endless potential of the coding world.

“It’s all about how you code it, because if you code it correctly, then you could change somebody’s life, it could change like how things are being done now,” Thompson said.

“They get excited about the things they create, and they try to pass it on to other students, and it’s a really cool environment,” Chicvara said.

He says the shortage of employees for S.T.E.M. related jobs makes these students all the more valuable.
And because of the hands-on collaborative nature of the skills they’re learning, he says the students are soaking it in like sponges.

“They have so much more buy-in, so much more ownership, and we’re able to teach other skills and supplement other classes,” he said.

Lauren and Aaron say with everything they’ve learning in class, the possibilities are endless.

“It could change like how things are being done now,” Thompson said.

“It’s just so much you can do, even if you have just a few blocks of code, you can still make something very exciting,” Castillo said.

Both of those kids are well on their way to some ambitious career goals. Aaron wants to be a computer programmer and Lauryn wants to be an aerospace engineer.

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