Coding is no longer just for computer whizzes.
Thanks to the National Hour of Code, more than 100 million kindergartners through high school seniors worldwide have been exposed to the basics of computer programming since its launch in 2013, according to Code.org, a nonprofit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color.
For the past five years, Clear Creek Elementary School has had one or more classes participate in the official coding campaign during the annual Computer Science Education Week. The designation recognizes the Dec. 9, 1906, birthday of computing pioneer Adm. Grace Murray Hopper.
"The Hour of Code is designed to demystify code and show that computer science is not rocket science — anybody can learn the basics," Hadi Partovi, founder and CEO of Code.org, said on the website. "Over 100 million students worldwide have tried an Hour of Code. The demand for relevant 21st century computer science education crosses all borders and knows no boundaries."
This week, CCES students from kindergarten to fifth grade are learning how to code everything from Sphero robots to solar system models to math games.
"The goal is to challenge classes to spend one hour doing coding lessons with the hopes of inspiring further exploration," GATEWAY teacher Robin Morrow said. "At Clear Creek Elementary, we have a number of classrooms across the school who have committed to participating in the Hour of Code challenge this week. Some classes integrate coding tasks into lessons on a regular basis."
Kindergarten teacher Misty Milam said she thinks coding is a "very important skill for all students."
"Having them learn coding at a young age will better prepare them for the future," she said. "Coding can be used to improve my students’ engagement, self-confidence, communication and problem-solving skills."
"Coding gives students a better understanding of how to solve problems and to think in a logical way," added technology lab teacher Staci Hughes, who is "very excited to be a part of the STEM movement taking place" at her school.
All students that Hughes sees in the lab this week will participate in some kind of Hour of Code activity — such as Minecraft or Dance Party for older students and maze-building on Kodable for the younger ones — on the Code.org website, and Milam said her kindergarten students also will be doing coding activities every day in their reading stations and/or math stations.
"This week, my students are using coding with Code and Go Robots," Milam said. "The Code and Go Robots are wonderful tools because they are so versatile. They can be used with topics from most any subject area. We are using the Code and Go Robots for reviewing beginning sounds, ending sounds and subitizing. Using the Code and Go Robots also requires students to use communication and problem-solving."
First-graders in Jamie Pavao's class will be using Botlogic to program a robot to return to his home, and Beverly Hancock’s classes will design and code math games for third-graders and a plate-tectonic task on Tynker.
Carla Bowen’s fifth-graders have completed a Homophone Challenge and a Bill of Rights Challenge using coding on Tynker.
GATEWAY students in grades 3-5 are coding a solar system model using Tynker, and all students in GATEWAY and on the after-school STEAM team are coding Sphero robots.
Even the pre-K students in Julie Bingham's class will get in on the act by doing some Scratch Jr. tasks.
Jennifer Stanfield’s fourth-graders and Erica Cornett’s third-graders also will be completing some type of Hour of Code challenge this week.
Hughes said coding teaches students how to collaborate, create and communicate to complete a specific task.
"Students are also learning persistence — how to never quit or give up," she said. "There is always a way to solve any problem."
Fourth-grader Vivian Willingham said she thinks coding activities are "fun."
"I’m learning about programming," the 9-year-old said. "[Coding] really helps when you get in high school. If you have a problem with a computer, you know how to fix it."
Aaron Goodwin, a 5-year-old kindergarten student, said it was "fun to make the robot move by pushing the arrows to program it," but Joshua Carter, also a 5-year-old kindergartner, had a little trouble with his robot.
"The first time, it didn’t go where I needed it to go so I tried coding it all in after pressing the 'clear all' button, and it worked," he said. "The robot mouse went to the crayon box on the mat. It made me really happy."