Gov. Hutchinson's coding drive brings new classes to Alpena

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ALPENA, Ark. (KY3) Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson hopes the next great technological breakthrough comes from the Natural state. He visited three schools in northwest Arkansas today to encourage kids to learn coding.

"They are introduced to coding and engineering and designing," Alpena robotics teacher Sherie Hammonds said.

Her fifth and sixth grade students have constructed programmable robots that can complete simple tasks like moving along a grid and lowering their arms.

That program came to Alpena last year as part of Governor Asa Hutchinson's coding initiative. It requires all schools in the state to offer a coding class. It also made sure all schools had access to modern internet speeds.

Arkansas is the only state that requires school systems to offer a coding course.

"If you have high speed internet access in our rural communities in Arkansas and you understand coding then you can run the world from your community," Gov. Hutchinson said.

New to Alpena this year is a program to teach kindergarteners and first graders the essence of coding using an electronic bug that can move. Students have a map with letters on it, and they must program the bug to move in the right way in order to land on a specific letter.

The kids map out the path for the bee to take to get to a letter on the board. Then they see if their path was right.

"The kids pick up on it real quick while putting their cards down and moving forward and backwards and turning to the left and turning to the right," teacher Paula Pate says.

As they get older they'll start designing programs and games. Maybe one day they'll run the world from Alpena.