My STEM Units

Friday, January 29, 2016

Students Learn Programming During Worldwide Computer Science Education Week

In December, students across Navajo and Apache counties participated in Hour of Code.
Hour of Code was part of the worldwide Computer Science Education Week where students learned not only coding and programming but also spatial reasoning, computational thinking and determining angles.
“Coding teaches those skills that tend to be harder to teach in the classroom. Skills like resiliency, following directions and creating,” trainer Linda Angelo said.
Angeloff recently trained 18 teachers from Navajo and Apache counties on how to use coding and programming to help teach sequencing, following directions, communicating and collaborating.
Computers are everywhere, but fewer schools teach computer science than 10 years ago. With recent budget cuts, many of the computer classes at junior high and middle schools have diminished.
“We are excited to have teachers willing to take this coding experience into their classes and allow our students to have this great opportunity,” Blue Ridge Junior High School Principal Loren Webb shared.

One such school was Blue Ridge Middle School, where math interventionist Deena Jorgenson had her students coding.
“Students at Harvard and Berkeley (universities) are using these programs. They start with Blockly and move into JavaScript,” she said.
Students learned how to use Blockly to program Star Wars, Minecraft, Frozen, Angry Birds and Flappy Bird. Other instructors participating in Hour of Code at Blue Ridge Middle School included David Butterfield, Amy Schimmel, Michele Gagnon and Cathie Steele.
“And sure enough, the students coded with confidence. One theme that seemed to emanate from the room was resiliency. Not one student coded an entire program with 100 percent accuracy. Yet, time and again, the students went back to their program, identified the error and made corrections. Imagine if they learn to apply that resiliency to real-world problems,” a press release said.
“We can’t anticipate what problems our students will face 15 years in the future. We couldn’t have anticipated just five years ago what we would do today with smartphones,” Navajo County Superintendent of Schools Jalyn Gerlich said.

Gerlich supports the addition of coding in classrooms to support our students for success in the 21st century. She believes every child should have a chance to learn about algorithms, how to make an app or how the Internet works, just like they learn about photosynthesis, the digestive system or electricity.