In Park City, Utah, a groundbreaking development in coding education is taking place. Is the perfect recipe for stimulating student interest in crucial 21st-century skills a mix of computer science, game shows, and active play? This intriguing question brings us to the heart of Ecker Hill Middle School’s revolutionary new teaching strategy.

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Park City School Harnesses Innovation to Spark Interest in Coding

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Key Takeaways

  • Ecker Hill Middle School leverages “Unruly Splats”, blending coding with active play to create an immersive and engaging learning environment.
  • The Unruly Splats tool transitions students from technology consumers to creators, fostering creativity, and enhancing problem-solving skills.
  • Despite potential challenges, careful implementation of Unruly Splats paves the way for a vibrant future in computer science education.

Revitalizing Learning Through Innovative Resources

In the classrooms of Ecker Hill Middle School in Park City, a transformative resource is reshaping how students perceive and learn coding. The school recently unveiled a new resource called “Unruly Splats”, an interactive tool that marries creative coding and playful activities. Summer Marshal, a devoted sixth-grade creative coding and computer science teacher, is one of the architects of this innovative approach. She recognizes the pervasive nature of technology in students’ lives and seeks to make it a meaningful, educational, and enjoyable aspect of their school experience. By introducing technology in the classroom, Marshal aims to inspire students to become creators rather than mere consumers of technology.

The Intersection of Creative Coding and Active Play

This educational resource isn’t solely focused on coding; it cleverly integrates active, recess-style play into the learning process. This unique blend enhances the appeal of programming, making it an engaging activity rather than a tedious chore. The result is an immersive learning environment that helps students engage with technology without any fear or intimidation.

Brian Handy, a senior account executive for Unruly Students, the company behind Unruly Splats, sheds light on this dynamic approach, “When students are coding with the splats instead of watching a character move around on a screen, they’re getting up and becoming a core part of that creation. The real-world interaction empowers and excites them, creating a more connected and meaningful learning experience.”

Transforming Coding and Science into Game Shows

The fascinating blend of coding and game shows has been a hit among students. One exemplary instance is the project by sixth graders Jonah and Hudson, who developed an interactive quiz game entirely from scratch using the Unruly Splats tool. Their game poses an intriguing challenge – it gets harder with correct answers and easier with wrong ones.

Transforming Coding and Science into Game Shows

Such an approach stimulates strategic thinking and problem-solving skills among students, thus proving that learning to code isn’t merely about understanding a computer language, but also about developing a mindset to solve complex problems.

Paving the Way for Future Computer Science Education

The broader aim of this initiative is to infuse students with a lasting sense of confidence in their coding skills. Marshal firmly believes in this transformative power of coding and aspires to instill it in her students, “I want students to walk away with the confidence that they can do it.” By embracing this creative method of teaching kids to code, Ecker Hill Middle School demonstrates its steadfast commitment to preparing its students for a future steeped in computer science.

Weighing the Unruly Splats: Advantages and Disadvantages

Unruly Splats, an innovative coding tool adopted by the Park City School District, brings both benefits and challenges to the learning environment:


  • Highly engaging: Combines coding with active, recess-style play, thus piquing students’ interest.
  • Encourages creativity: Students are not just consumers but creators of technology, exploring a variety of applications.
  • Promotes algorithmic thinking: Challenges students to devise different algorithms, strengthening their problem-solving skills.
  • Reduces tech intimidation: The tool’s user-friendly nature can alleviate students’ fear or intimidation around technology.


  • Complexity: Although educational, some students might find creating algorithms overwhelming or frustrating.
  • Potential for distraction: The game-like nature of the tool could divert students’ attention from the learning objectives.
  • Teachers’ learning curve: Teachers may face challenges in integrating this new tool effectively into their curriculum.

The Bottom Line

Unruly Splats, a revolutionary resource, is redefining how coding is taught at the Ecker Hill Middle School in Park City, Utah. By blending creative coding with active play, the school has managed to create an engaging and interactive learning environment. This method of teaching not only helps students gain a solid grasp of coding but also aids in developing essential problem-solving and critical thinking skills. With an emphasis on overcoming any fear or intimidation around technology and promoting confidence in coding, this unique teaching approach prepares students for a promising future in the world of computer science.

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