National coding champions in a Pasco elementary school

Livingston Elementary students who are part of the coding teams.
Livingston Elementary students who are part of the teams that won a coding national competition. (Credit: Johanna Bejarano / NWPB)



Fourth and fifth graders from Livingston Elementary School in Pasco proved they are the best at coding. They recently defeated more than 30 teams from 11 states in a national competition.  

The nine-week Coder-Z and TeamViewer cyber robotics competition introduces students to programming and robotics while developing problem-solving and analytical thinking skills.  

Declan Welk, 11, is passionate about coding. 

“I love coding so much. So, learning that there was another opportunity to code, I just had to do it,” Welk said.  

Elizabeth Persinger, 10, said coding is fun.   

“It’s one of the things that really challenges me. It makes me really think on how I have to do it,” Persinger said.   

The students are part of the Livingston Elementary teams: Onix and Rhydon, that won two of the three top honors during the competition. Thirty-eight schools participated in it.

Livingtston Elementary School, Pasco, WA. Coding Team Onix.

Team Onix:
From left to right: Ellie Persinger, 4th grade, Harrison Hultgrenn, 5th grade, Micah Kershaw, 4th grade, Oliver Cree, 4th grade, and Vitaliy Tverdokhleb, 4th grade. (Credit: Johanna Bejarano / NWPB)

Creid Chiesa, 11, said it involved lots of different challenges.  

“You had to push blocks, push golf balls into golf holes to get points, and then you had to drive on little platforms, and you would get add-up points,”  Chiesa said. 

Coding Team Rhydon, Livingston Elementary, Pasco, WA.

Team Rhydon:
From left to right: Creid Chiesa, 5th grade, Gavin Robertson, 5th grade, Jace Campbell, 5th grade, Declan Welk, 5th grade, and Greyson Johnson 5th grade. (Credit: Johanna Bejarano / NWPB)

Bethany Olson is their coding coach and teacher.   

“It will teach them how to code as they progress through the levels. It’s very much like a video game,” Olson said.  

Olson also said learning coding allows students to develop advanced math skills.

Teacher Bethany Olson at Livingston Elementary in Pasco, WA, with her students. (Credit: Johanna Bejarano / NWPB.)

Teacher Bethany Olson with her students. (Credit: Johanna Bejarano / NWPB)

“They had to learn angles, positives, negatives, coordinates, so many things that fourth grade wasn’t exposed to yet. That was pretty impressive as well,” she said.

Joe Jisa, Livingston Elementary School principal, said the school has been doing coding for the last several years when there are coaches, and the results in learning are visible.

“Getting the first and second place teams is pretty awesome. They’ve been really hitting it hard this year,” he said. “We are fortunate that our school district supports STEM education, and they support robotics and chess clubs.”

Jace Campbell, 11, said more students should join coding clubs.

“It’s really challenging. So, if you want to take on something really hard, you should do coding.” Campbell said.

Chiesa agreed.

“If you like solving problems and puzzles and troubleshooting, then totally is the right place for you,” he said.

Olson said this year the school had to have five teams participating in coding competitions.

She also said consistency and teamwork were the students’ best strategies for winning.