When Middle School students in John Dicasali and Anastasia Nekoz’s classes work together in groups on a game based on Disney’s latest movie, Moana, or the ever-popular Star Wars series, they may not know it, but the skills they build could continue to inspire them long after they complete the game.
Both games were one-hour, self-guided tutorials designed as part of the Hour of Code
, a computer science movement that has gone global.
"Participating in he Hour of Code is a fun and engaging way to help students become more resilient problem solvers," said Dicasali.
The Hour of Code started in 2013 as a one-hour introduction to computer science. It was designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics.
The movement, which has spread to more than 180 countries, allows students to learn about the basics of computer coding through online tutorials and games. St. Martin’s students in several different grade levels dove right into the Hour of Code with a variety of age- and grade-appropriate activities.
Ashley Bozeman’s first grade class started the week by having informal discussions about what coding is and what it means to be a coder. They used Brain Pop
videos to dig deeper into computer programming. As a class, students colored by code then broke into partners to continue the activity. They were able to put all they learned together through use of the LightBot
app. The app offers an easy way for kids to learn concepts like loops, if-then statements, without typing or coding.
Mary Lee Saucier, director of the Lower School STeaM Lab, worked with second and third grade classes to show students how easy it is to get started in coding. After watching a video with several famous people discussing the importance of learning to code and computer science in school, students tried some live coding. Students coded Saucier using the block tiles on the floor. The goal was to navigate Saucier to the other side of the classroom. Students also used the coding app Blockly
to code the STeaM Lab’s robots, Dash and Wonder.
Fourth graders participated in live sessions with the Makey Makey
corporation. They also viewed a Ted Talk by Jay Silver
, creator of Makey Makey. Silver demonstrated all the ways the device could be used.
Fifth grade students were also exposed the system. During their lunch period the fifth grade participated in a webinar on Makey Makey. They got to chat with the creators of the Makey Makey
Invention kit and hear about the ideas that led to its creation.
For Dicasali, who is also a member of St. Martin’s Innovation + Design team, introducing students to coding and computer science is incredibly important.
"Learning to code means that students can play an active role in creating the future world in which they'll live, not just be passive recipients of it," said Dicasali.