By: Susan Gum // December 21th, 2015 // Stories
Delmarva Christian Schools Milton Campus (DCMC) students in grades kindergarten through eighth participated in “Hour of Code” throughout the week of December 7.
Hour of Code is a weeklong initiative from Code.org, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making computer science education more accessible to students of all ages, locations, and backgrounds.
A now-annual event at DCMC, computer teacher Mary Patterson has found that Hour of Code goes beyond teaching the basics of computer science and also fosters problem-solving, analytical, and logic skills in her students.
“We’re teaching kindergarteners what an algorithm is—in their first week,” said Patterson. “Students are even picking up things like orientation skills, learning the difference between North, South, East, and West while going through the tutorials.”
For Hour of Code, Code.org offers a variety of hour-long lessons that introduce students to different basic coding concepts. DCMC students chose from a variety of self-guided tutorials that starred characters from Star Wars, Disney’s Frozen, open world video game Minecraft, and Flappy Bird, among others.
The tutorials are targeted towards students of all ages. Take this year’s student favorite, Minecraft, for example. Before a student starts the Minecraft-themed tutorial, they watch a short video featuring Jens Bergensten, the lead developer at Minecraft. Not only does he introduce the skills that the student will learn in the next hour, but he also explains how he first became interested in computer programming, giving the student a real-world perspective on the value of learning these coding techniques. After the video, the student then chooses from two characters (“Alex” or “Steve”) and is presented their task: to move their character through the Minecraft world.
The tutorials are as fun as they are educational, leading some DCMC students to continue the lessons outside of the computer lab.
“Some students play these games at home, which is exciting because the purpose of Hour of Code is to get students interested in the programming field,” said Patterson. “Learning these concepts early can lead to a future job.”
Even if the students are having too much fun to recognize it, they are learning.
“There are paper assessments that the students can take home so their parents can see—they’re not just playing games—they’re actually learning,” said Patterson.
Though the Hour of Code campaign ran from December 7-13, DCMC students are far from finished with their coding lessons.
“Hour of Code is just the introduction,” said Patterson. “We will continue teaching these concepts in computer class through the spring.”