Charles County schools par­tic­i­pate in ‘Hour of Code’

Lessons in­cor­po­rate com­pu­ta­tional think­ing, com­puter science

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

Charles County Pub­lic Schools stu­dents were pro­gram­ming ro­bots, cod- ing games and more last week for Com­puter Sci- ence Ed­u­ca­tion Week.

The lessons tied into the non­profit code.org event, “Hour of Code,” which sup­ports ef­forts to pro­mote at least an hour of com­puter pro­gram­ming in­struc­tion for in­di­vid­u­als of all ages.

Code.org pro­vides tu- to­ri­als and other sup­port for the Hour of Code, both through com­puter us­age and “un­plugged” ac­tivi- ties, which do not in­volve a de­vice. Charles County el­e­men­tary, mid­dle and high schools planned events cen­tered around the Hour of Code.

At Dr. Sa­muel Mudd El­e­men­tary School in Wal- dorf, stu­dents prac­ticed cod­ing through the on­line game Minecraft Mod­ding and other pro­grams, used Lego Wedo ro­bot­ics kits to build and pro­gram their cre­ations, pro­grammed ro­bots to move and more.

“A lot of the code.org projects that peo­ple do are

based on the com­puter, which is fine, but I wanted to give them some more hands-on op­por­tu­ni­ties as well,” said Nathaniel Yake, Mudd’s tech­nol­ogy fa­cil­i­ta­tor.

Yake said there are a num­ber of lessons to be learned from such projects.

“It teaches work­ing to­gether, and es­pe­cially with the pro­gram­ming, with all of the steps, it teaches you to think ahead,” Yake said. “It teaches strat­egy, and think­ing out­side the box.”

“When I was in school, we had noth­ing like this,” Yake added. “Now I’ve got kinder­gart­ners pro­gram­ming a robot, which to me is amaz­ing. It sets them up big time in the fu­ture.”

Mudd fifth grader Ash­lin Baires, 10, said she would like to be­come an en­gi­neer, or maybe a chef, when she grows up. She said what she likes best about cod­ing is, “for me, see­ing how things work and what hap­pens when you do things dif­fer­ently.”

St. Charles High School ob­served Com­puter Science Week by hav­ing each teacher de­sign a les­son in­cor- po­rat­ing com­pu­ta­tional think­ing or com­puter science into their sub­ject area in­struc­tion, said Vice Prin­ci­pal Melissa Miesowitz.

“We used the code.org re­sources and the plethora of things out there to come up with some lessons,” Miesowitz said. “Ev­ery­thing from P.E. [phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion] to English, was able to come up with some­thing.”

In ad­di­tion, Miesowitz said the com­puter labs and li­brary were open dur­ing lunch and free pe­ri­ods for stu­dents to en­gage in com­puter pro­gram­ming ac­tiv­i­ties.

In Danielle Car­pen­ter’s ninth grade gov­ern­ment class, stu­dents worked on us­ing a pro­gram on code.org to cre­ate code in­struc­tions for mak­ing dif­fer­ent flags.

“We were talk­ing about sym­bols of Amer­i­can democ­racy last week, so now they’re work­ing to cre­ate their own sym­bols,” Car­pen­ter said.

Sopho­more Kate O’Meara, a stu­dent in St. Charles’ Java script cod­ing class, said she first be­came in­ter­ested in cod­ing through her ro­bot­ics and com­puter science club in el­e­men­tary and mid­dle school.

“I like fig­ur­ing out how to solve prob­lems, and when I do, to show it off,” O’Meara said.

O’Meara said her orig­i­nal plans were to be­come a vet­eri­nar­ian, but her in­ter­est in cod­ing has changed her ca­reer plans some­what.

“Now, since I’ve been pro­gram­ming a lot and do­ing more with com­puter science, I want to get a de­gree in bio­med­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing and maybe be a ge­netic re­searcher or bio­med­i­cal en­gi­neer,” O’Meara said.

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