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Hour of Code observed in the Wells Ogunquit CSD

posted Dec 18, 2015, 6:45 AM by Michael Richards
December 7th through the 13th was designated Computer Science Education Week, a time to generate a beginning interest in computer science among K-12 students and others.  A component of this week is known as “Hour of Code” a popular growing phenomenon in education around the globe.

And just what is Hour of Code?  “It is an opportunity for every student to try computer science for one hour,” explained the Wells Ogunquit CSD’s Director of Technology Michael Richards.  “There are many layers of activities to fit all learners BK-12 regardless of the type of device you use.” 

Working with students in the Wells-Ogunquit CSD during Hour of Code activities this year were educators Marty Cryer at Wells Elementary School, Beth Goodwin and Kerry Georgitis at Wells Junior High School and Cheryl Oakes with Andre Mercier in the computer lab at Wells High School.  According to Goodwin, this coding involves Java Script and is a guided step by step process.  Students work with a split screen with coding on one side and the resulting reinforcing animation on the other. 

“Anyone can learn to code because code is just writing line by line instructions for a computer to follow,” said 5th grade Resource teacher Goodwin who, along with 8th grade Science teacher Kerry Georgitis, held several hours of coding sessions during the week in the computer lab.   With just one hour of instruction and practice, Goodwin is confident that anyone can gain enough information to understand what basic computer coding is and therefore become able to create a simple game to play. 

According to Cryer, learning to code involves many components including “critical thinking, high order thinking, math, reading, science and problem solving all wrapped up into one neat package.”  Goodwin would add “resilience” on the part of students to that list. 

During this week, Goodwin’s students were using the website code.org and other similar websites to learn about creating code with such games as Minecraft, Flappy Bird and a Star Wars themed game.  Disney Pixar also offers an elementary coding experience online based around the movie, Frozen.  To get coding skills and have fun at it, Goodwin also recommends a free app called Box Island, which can be downloaded for free on an iPhone. 

According to Richards, code.org offers teachers one day workshops “…to prepare educators to introduce computer science basics in a format that's fun, accessible and relevant to the youngest learners. Students of all ages enjoy learning these fun and applicable skills,” commented Richards. 

Participating in an hour of code at WJHS are fifth grade students Ryan Chase (at right), Tabitha Boudle (opposite Chase) and Kelci Nguyen sitting further down the table next to 8th grade Science teacher Kerry Georgitis.  Fifth grader Ryan Chase commented to Goodwin at one point during the week, “I can’t believe we are in the basement of the school playing Minecraft !”

5th Grade Resource teacher Beth Goodwin assisting students participating in an hour of code in the basement computer lab at WJHS on December 10, 2015.  
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