The Software Bug
After working 30 years as a software engineer, Kim Henry Pries embarked on a new career: teaching Career and Technology classes – including pre-engineering, biotechnology and computer science – at Parkland High School in the Ysleta ISD. However, as the district’s Texas Afterschool Centers on Education (ACE) program was growing its STEM unit, Mr. Pries also happily agreed to partner with Parkland Middle School teachers and tutors to teach the district’s middle school ACE students after he completes his school day.
This summer he is teaching Zero Robotics to Texas ACE sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students. In his class, his students are learning how to program spherical robots for the International Space Station. “Software and robotics are the future,” says Mr. Pries as his eyes light up, explaining that the students’ final product might be chosen for real robots flying on a real space station.
Before these students participated in the Zero Robotics program, they had seen little or no computer code. All of Mr. Pries’ ACE students now program their Space Station robots and run tests using an MIT simulator. “Their ability to ‘sponge’ up the curriculum is incredible,” Pries says. “They can write a program to have their space robot do surprisingly complex tasks.”
The students have broken into small groups as they program their robots and each group has tried to outperform the others. Thanks to Mr. Pries’ lessons, one student has even caught the software "bug"– during his ACE classes, he has taught himself incremental programming, which is the heart of high-quality professional software development.
As Mr. Pries loves to keep learning and tackling a great challenge, it’s watching his students discover new passions and learn new skills that keeps him working year-round. “What else would I do with my time?” he asks. “It’s about the kids.” #IAmTXEd #TexasACE Ysleta ISD