During Computer Science Education Week, observed December 9 to 15, Newtown High School, Newtown Middle School, and Reed Intermediate School students have been writing code.
“The movement across the nation is to get 10 million students to do an hour of code during that week,” explained NHS’s computer technology teacher Kristin Violette on Friday, December 6.
To be ready for the Computer Science Education Week program, Ms Violette had four of her classes prepare the previous week to serve as student assistants during workshops, in which teachers at NHS signed up to have their own students participate.
Ms Violette said everyone is a user of technology, but everyone needs to become creators of that technology.
“Coding is in all of our futures,” said Ms Violette. “It can’t be avoided.”
She also noted studies that project a heavy need in the computer science field in the next ten years.
“Hopefully we will inspire kids to code,” Ms Violette said Friday, as students in one of her classes worked at computers around her, “and I think it is working.”
By that day, 21 classes had signed up to participate in the Hour of Code at NHS throughout Computer Science Education Week, and two open labs were scheduled for students to sign up to attend during free periods.
Along with Ms Violette NHS teachers who had signed up by Friday to have their classes participate in the Hour of Code initiative were Kim Lowell, Christian Canfield, Eric Ekman, Bridget Berechid, Susan McConnell, Brian Tenney, Whitney Goodman, Richard Giacin, Eugene Hall, and Laura Sargent.
Ms Violette’s class on Friday worked to review new aspects of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) App Inventor 2, which Ms Violette explained became available for Computer Science Education Week. Until then, the high school students had been familiar with the program’s predecessor.
At Newtown Middle School, computer integration teacher Rachel Smith said she has been using www.Code.org to have students test out the different activities that would be offered during Computer Science Education Week.
“And they really enjoy it,” said Ms Smith.
When the middle school students first began to work on the activities, Ms Smith said she watched the students grow from skeptical of their own abilities to excited over their accomplishments.
“Coding isn’t as scary as you think, and if our students can do it anyone can do it,” said Ms Smith.
Ms Smith said stations would be set up in the middle school’s cafeteria for students to code during their lunch period near the end of Computer Science Education Week. She also said participating students would receive prizes.
At Reed Intermediate School, computer technology teacher Tim McGuire said he contacted homeroom teachers in an e-mail to describe the concept of the Hour of Code and to ask interested participants to contact him.
“Several teachers have asked to work with me in a lesson for their homerooms during the next week,” said Mr McGuire. “I think I have over 250 kids that I know will participate in total [out of 800].”
He also said students have the ability to “jump in on their own at home. I have a page on my website with links to Hour of Code activities.”
On Friday, NHS freshman Jonathan Holden, while working in Ms Violette’s class, said the world is moving toward “an age of tech.”
“And coding is the foundation of it all,” Jonathan said.
Further information about the Hour of Code initiative is available at www.Code.org.