By Andrea Cordle
The fifth grade students in Melissa Redick’s class at Hayes Intermediate School spent an hour on Dec. 7 with their favorite computer games like Moana, Minecraft and Star Wars. It was not all fun and games though.
“The kids are so interested in these games,” said Redick. “But, what is behind it?”
The students learned how to code these computer games as part of the international effort the Hour of Code.
According to hourofcode.com, this effort started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to show that anyone can learn the basics of code. It also aims to increase participation in computer science.
The Hour of Code takes place each year during Computer Science Education Week, which is Dec. 5-11.
Maria Boyarko, the staff development coordinator for the South-Western City Schools District organized the district-wide Hour of Code.
“A lot of teachers say they have a hard time getting students to focus,” said Boyarko. “The students really like this. They are engaged. It also helps them with problem solving and critical thinking skills.”
Boyarko said many companies now require their employees to know computer programming.
“The younger the students are when they have access to this type of training, the more successful they will be,” she said.
The students at Hayes had help coding from teachers, high school students from the South-Western Career Academy and their own coding expert, 10-year-old Brennan Lehman.
Lehman started computer programming in the fourth grade and found he was a natural at it. He plans to make a career out of coding.
Lehman also plans to participate in the upcoming Hayes Intermediate School coding club for boys. The school will also have a coding club for girls.
“There is a severe lack of females in the computer programming field,” said Boyarko. “Minorities are also underserved. We wanted to address that.”
Redick said she plans to head the coding club for girls, where students will have different challenges and rankings, similar to the Scouts.
“This could be a career path for many of these students,” said the fifth grade teacher.
The Hour of Code is driven by the Hour of Code and Computer Science Education Week Advisory and Review Committees. It is supported by companies like Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and the Boys and Girls Club of America.
To learn more about the Hour of Code, visit hourofcode.com.