Educators at Kenilworth Science and Technology School in Baton Rouge are treating computer coding as a skill as essential as reading and math in our increasingly computerized world, school leaders said in a news release.

Every student in the middle school must take a nine-week course in computer coding, which is the basic building blocks of digital literacy. Students who know how to code are better prepared to understand how computer systems work and will have the foundation to pursue higher skills in high school and beyond, the release said.

"This is no longer an elective or optional course for students today, it's a basic requirement," Kenilworth teacher Hifzullah Celik said. "Computers and mobile technology will be employed more and more in every industry, and we must prepare students for that future."

Regardless of the importance of computers, middle school students still have short attention spans, so Kenilworth uses a tried-and-true method of introducing coding — they make it fun, the release said. The students learn coding by playing a computer game.

Kenilworth uses software from a California company that lets the students play a game that teaches them the basics of coding. The software also tracks each student's progress and points out the areas where an individual student may need some extra help.

Sixth-grade students start out with the Introduction to Computer Science course, where they are taught basic syntax, arguments, variables and algorithms. The seventh-graders learn about functions, parameters and advanced strings, while the eighth-grade course tackles input handling, Boolean logic, arrays and continue statements.

Kenilworth plans to expand its offering of computer coding courses in the future.