Hour of Code 2016


Grace Morton

On December 6th and 7th, Mont Vernon Village School hosted their second annual Hour of Code, run by code.org. The event was organized by Katie McCann, the president of programming club. Katie and a few other club members went over to the school to help out.

Each day started with an assembly. On the 6th, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders watched a presentation about the importance of coding and the Hour Of Code. This included the short film “Code Stars” included below. Then the students went to lunch and recess before coming back one grade at a time to do their hour (or 45 minutes) of code. The 4th, 5th and 6th graders got their turn on the 7th.

During every grade’s programming time, they played a game called Lightbot. I highly recommend giving it a try. It’s so much fun. The game uses easy command blocks and a fun robot design to help any beginning programmer understand basic coding properties such as functions, loops, breaks, and conditionals. The kids were always really proud of themselves when they completed a level. As Souhegan teacher and programming club mentor John Ranta observed, “The energy in the room, the way the kids were all ‘Look at this! I just did this! Yay!’, their enthusiasm and their engagement were really high”. After beating the particularly difficult level Basics 6, Brady, a 4th grader, said, “Level six on Lightbot looks really really hard, but once you get down the basics of it and you realize how easy it is to actually do it, you can do it, like, really quickly”

this photo was posed but only because i saw him doing this from across the room and ran over with my camera
Brady celebrates after beating the Basics levels in Lightbot

MVVS’s Library Media Specialist, Anne Detwiler, organized the activity on MVVS’s end. She teaches computer classes at the school. Currently, students are writing and sharing book reviews on Bookopolis, practicing proper typing skills, and playing a game called Prodigy, which is an adventure game where your wizard fights monsters using math facts! I’m patiently awaiting the addition of algebra and calculus levels. Students will soon be working on programming in class, with activities such as Lightbot, Minecraft and Scratch. Anne says “We’re so excited to start coding!”

Representatives from Souhegan’s programming club instructs the MVVS 6th grade class

Katie has taught the Hour of Code at the elementary school for two years. “I actually started it for my Gold Award. I wanted to bring the Hour of Code…to the high school, originally. But because of scheduling that wasn’t really possible,” she says. Instead, she got in touch with the computer teacher at MVVS and pitched her idea to him and the principal. The program was such a success that she was asked to do it again. She thinks the program is important because “As technology is advancing…we should all be keeping up with that and educating ourselves on how it works so it’s not just like, what is this magical contraption in my hand?”

As computers become more and more integrated into our daily lives, it’s incredibly important to teach programming to the next generation of computer scientists. As Katie says, “It’s really an integral part of modern day culture because everywhere you go there’s technology and everywhere there’s technology there’s computer programming.” Mont Vernon Village School and Souhegan’s programming club are doing a great job bringing computer education to students of all ages.

More information:

Statistics about computer science education

Coding games