Charles County schools participate in ‘Hour of Code’
Lessons incorporate computational thinking, computer science
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.