By Jacob Mathias
As careers in computer coding continue to grow, area students are getting an early jump on learning computer coding concepts.
Elementary and junior high school students across the district have recently been participating in the Hour of Code. The program is presented by Code.org, a non-profit organization that promotes expanding access to computer science courses, especially among women and underrepresented, minority students.
The Hour of Code is part of Computer Science Education Week and seeks to offer all students an opportunity to participate in one hour of computer science and programming skill instruction.
“Coding really is kind of a foreign language that these kids need to know as everything is becoming so computer based that as they progress into high school and college they’re going to need basic understanding,” said Dan Lathrop, lead teacher of the Point of Discovery School.
Students said it was easier to begin learning the coding concepts than they thought it would be.
“I think it’s a great way to learn methods that you could use later on in your life in computerized technology,” said Dawson Worzella, a seventh grade student at PODS.
The coding courses are presented via online modules with popular children’s themes, such as Minecraft and Star Wars.
With the Minecraft modules, students use the visual programming editor Blockly and are given instructions to build houses or gather wood, popular concepts in the game itself.
As the tasks get more complicated, so does the code needed to complete them. In the Star Wars module, students are tasked with moving BB8, a robot droid from the movie, through a series more and more complicated tasks.
“I like how it challenges you if you pick a good level for you and it’s different from what most other schools do,” said Chloe Harbaugh, a seventh grade student at PODS.
Lathrop said he expects coding to be taught at schools on a more regular basis in the future. If the students want to pursue more experience with coding, all of the courses and challenges on Code.org are free of charge.
“At the very least it’s an introduction for everybody so if some kids are really interested in it they can kind of follow that passion,” said Lathrop.
For more information on the Hour of Code or to try your hand at the coding exercises, visit Code.org.