Friday, January 9, 2015

Hour of Code event teaches computer coding basics

Tuesday December 30, 2014 2:57 PM

Students throughout the Dublin City School District got to try their hand at coding and learned some of the basics of computer science, as part of a national Hour of Code initiative.

Dublin participated by having students complete a one-hour introductory course which was designed to take the mystery out of computer science and show that anybody can learn the basics.

During computer science education week, Dec. 8-14, More than 15 million students from 180 countries participated in the Hour of Code, according to the program's website.

Students in advanced-placement computer science classes participated by traveling to elementary schools and helping students learn coding.

About six Dublin Jerome High School students traveled Dec. 12 to Glacier Ridge Elementary School to teach coding to 25 Latchkey students in grades 1-5.

Dublin Scioto High School students went to Chapman Elementary School Dec. 13 to teach fifth-graders.

The elementary school students could select a project to work on, such as using Javascript to control a knight, build a pong game or animate their name.

Kimberly Clavin, manager of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math initiatives for the Dublin district, said it was interesting to see what the elementary school children were able to build.

Clavin said students went beyond building simple games and started doing more advanced coding.
Some students were able to make an interactive holiday card, with moving characters, that they could send to family members.

"A lot of people don't realize that there is a mix of art and computer science in coding," Clavin said.
"When the students do it for the first time, they realize, 'hey this is pretty cool,' " she said.
Clavin said having the high school students teach the elementary school students benefited everyone.
"The high-schoolers learn by teaching and the elementary school students tend to take to the high school students more than adults," she said.

"It's a pretty neat pipeline for students of all ages to get involved in coding and computer science."
This kind of "learning by teaching" is important to Anne Fuller, a computer science teacher at both Scioto and Jerome.

"I thought my AP students needed something more and so I suggested the idea to them and they were very excited and enthusiastic," Fuller said.

She said high school students now want to continue helping the elementary school students and she is planning on how they can do that in the second semester.

"We hope to encourage all the students to explore the world of computer science through the use of Scratch and other programs to promote learning," she said.

Rhonda Luetje, a Dublin technology support teacher, took the lead on this year's Hour of Code.
For Hour of Code's sophomore year in Dublin, Luetje worked to make it easier for teachers to incorporate into their classrooms.

She created a website that housed engaging computer science activities that students could do as a warm-up, during the Hour of Code, or as extension activities.

Luetje said she was very impressed by the authentic learning and deep engagement that took place.
"They just blew me away," she said.

"When they were solving difficult puzzles, they didn't give up. They would work together and ask each other, 'Hey, what are you doing?' to try and figure it out," she said.

The Scioto Math Club also stayed after school on Mondays and Wednesdays to share with other students various computer programming resources and teach basics.

Other school districts such as Hilliard, Pickerington, Worthington and Bexley participated in the Hour of Code.

Even though the Hour of Code is over, teachers are still excited about it and are continuing it in some of their classrooms, Clavin said.

The Hour of Code makes it easy for teachers to incorporate coding into the curriculum by offering free lesson plans and ideas.