by Cori Hilsgen
Just the idea of studying computer coding might be daunting enough to keep people who don’t think they know anything about computers from wanting to learn more about it.
At Sartell Middle School, technology specialists Brad Scherer and Amanda Holstrom tried to eliminate some of the fear of coding during the school’s recent “The Hour of Code” held in early December.
Scherer said activities included an “Unplugged Challenge,” where students wrote directions to program students around a maze to help them understand the sequential reasoning and logical thinking that is so important when coding and an Hour of Code Minecraft Challenge.
Because each grade level’s science teachers think it’s important to expose students to the experience, all students in fifth- through eighth-grade participated in the event.
“This experience is great for students,” Scherer said. “They get an opportunity to see how coding and programming impacts their daily lives and have a lot of fun learning.”
He said students could be heard saying things like “I thought this was going to be really hard, but it was really fun,” “I can’t believe I was able to do that,” “At first I couldn’t figure it out but after failing a couple of times, I learned how to code,” and more.
“In the Hour of Code you get to build your own things and finish a challenge,” said sixth-grader Ben Thompson, also known as Code Master. “You feel like you got something accomplished.”
According to Code.org, the Hour of Code began as a one-hour introduction to computer science to help demystify “code” and show most people can learn the basics. It was also meant to broaden participation in the computer-science field.
It has grown to become a worldwide effort, starting with one-hour of coding activities but expanding to many other area efforts.
The Hour of Code takes place yearly during Computer Science Education Week, which is held annually in recognition of the Dec. 9, 1906, birthday of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, a computer pioneer.
This year, Computer Science Education Week was Dec. 4-10, but an Hour of Code can be hosted year-round.