Hodge Road participates in Hour of Code

mhankerson@newsobserver.comDecember 17, 2013 

— For an hour last week, first graders in Jasmine Barclift’s class used iPads to move Angry Birds characters through a maze.

They instructed different game characters to move forward, left or right. At the end of the maze, they could see the HTML code they created by finishing the maze.

The game was part of an effort to teach the students the fundamentals of computer science and coding as part of the international Hour of Code.

“I love that the drive of the Hour of Code was to get 10 million kids (coding),” Hodge Road’s STEM coordinator Allyn Bowers said. “We joined millions of other kids in over 160 different countries.”

The Hour of Code is part of Computer Science Education Week, which helps students understand how computer science is applied in their everyday lives and teaches them some basic skills that may be useful.

This was the first year Hodge Road did anything to celebrate Computer Science Education Week. For this year, the Hour of Code was the only activity the whole school participated in.

In Barclift’s class, students didn’t immediately realize they were creating computer codes. Bowers said that was the biggest challenge for her: Making sure students, especially the younger ones, understood the practical application of what they were learning.

In higher grade levels, Bowers said students practiced problem-solving skills. She said she overheard a third grader talking himself through a puzzle.

For younger students, the value was seeing how intertwined technology is in life and to encourage students to continue working toward solutions to problems.

“It just allowed them to see that technology is important,” Bowers said. “I think it can carry through so they can see if (they) don't get it right the first time, (they) can try again.”

Barclift reminded her class throughout the hour that video games were created with codes. Bowers said that was the easiest connection to make for students and for herself, too. Her fiance designs video games and was one of the community members who came in to introduce computer coding to students.

“I love that (students) got to see real-life (people), with real jobs where they use computer programming,” she said. This year, there were no women volunteers working with students, but Bowers said her goal is to get some women to participate next year.

As a STEM school, one of Hodge Road’s goals is to encourage more girls to get involved with STEM subjects– science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Bowers said she hopes to expand the coding to be integrated in other lessons and next year, wants to expand the Hour of Code by including more community members.

Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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