Lisa Sato Inspires Students to Get Creative with Code

Lisa Sato Inspires Students to Get Creative with Code

Lisa Sato Inspires Students to Get Creative with Code

“Best way to start the morning: coding” -Lisa Sato via Twitter


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@maimaisato
    Blog: Authentic STEM
Katherine R.Smith Elementary School
San Jose, CA

For twenty years, Lisa Sato has been inspiring students. In 2018 she celebrated her 20th year teaching and her 4th year teaching 6th grade at Katherine R. Smith Elementary. A Tynker Blue Ribbon Educator, Lisa recognizes the importance of learning to code: In a video she made, Lisa expresses the idea that we need coders to help us solve the problems of the future in many areas, including pollution, medicine, and climate change.

That’s why, in Lisa’s classroom, students celebrate Hour of Code and use coding as a core element of projects that span subject areas. One of her students’ favorite projects is the penny arcade, a product of the PBL (Problem-Based Learning) framework that’s in place at Katherine R. Smith Elementary.


Arcades represent the days when people had to go to a physical location to play their favorite games. They fostered gaming communities–you could go to an arcade, play different games with your friends, and compare scores and game experiences. Today, most people can simply open up their computer or smartphone to play a game. Perhaps we’ve lost some of the fun, some of the human interaction, that can come with playing games at an arcade.  Lisa Sato’s penny arcade project with her students seeks to capture that element of fun that can happen when people interact with machines and each other. That’s exactly what students did when they hosted their very own penny arcade and played Greek myth-themed games made with Tynker!

When it comes to choosing a coding platform that will best help her students get the skills to both solve challenges and create fun games, Lisa says that Tynker has been the best fit for both teachers and students she’s worked with: “Everyone comes out with a feeling of accomplishment. Other teachers I’ve worked with love how easy it is to use. Teachers don’t have to be the expert.  Students and teachers can work together to problem solve and the tutorials are wonderful tools.”

Even as Lisa enjoys her career and helps students have meaningful learning experiences in the present, she also looks ahead to the future. On her blog, she discusses ways she hopes STEM industries will continue to evolve, advocating for more gender and ethnic diversity in those fields. She writes that social media platforms can be catalysts for change as individuals in STEM fields “[share] what they know and the excitement that goes with it…could very well increase representation in [STEM].” And in another post, Lisa muses: “I…wonder what it will take to increase female representation in robotics. [When] will our robotics leagues become more culturally and ethnically integrated?”

We’re excited to see how Lisa is integrating coding into subject areas and envisioning a more inclusive future in tech!

Read about how Lisa won an Infosys grant!

Learn more about Project-Based Learning (PBL) at Katherine R. Smith Elementary!

Tynker enables children to learn computer programming in a fun and imaginative way. More than 60 million kids worldwide have started learning to code using Tynker.

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