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Fifth Graders at Laurelwood School Practice Computer Programming During the Hour of Code

Fifth Graders at Laurelwood School Practice Computer Programming During the Hour of Code

The click-clack sounds of fingers tapping on the keys of laptops filled Amber Wacht’s fifth-grade classroom at Laurelwood Elementary School on the morning of Dec. 8. In recognition of Computer Science Education Week, students were building their computer programming chops during a worldwide event called the Hour of Code. The lesson kicked off with the screening of video clips featuring influential figures, such as President Obama, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, advocating for computer science education.

“This is our second year that all the fifth-grade students at Laurelwood have participated in the Hour of Code,” Wacht says. “It’s a way to get students involved with computer programming. Students will be using the code.org website and they’ll be doing lessons on basic coding. They’ll be using Blockly, a kid-friendly form of Javascript. They’re going to go through a series of lessons the Hour of Code has created on Star Wars and Minecraft. Instead of getting the kids interested in playing the games we want them to know how the games actually work. One of the reasons why we do the Hour of Code is to get more girls involved in programming. Last year, we did a series of lessons with Frozen characters.”

Later in the week, students worked on open-ended coding where they interacted with more programs, such as Tynker and Scratch, both kid-friendly coding systems.

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Michael, 11, smiled as he completed a programming task during the Hour of Code.

“The fact that you’re having fun but learning a computer language makes this thrilling,” Michael says. “I accomplished making a house on level six of the Minecraft program. I messed up a little on the left and right movements but I kept replaying it and figured out what I did wrong.”

“I like the fact that you can type in instructions and the computer does what you want,” says Marushika, 10, on the joys of computer programming. “I just created a house and planted some crops [in my lesson].”

“[If I’m a computer programmer,] I can make games like this Minecraft game and I would be able to understand computers a bit more,” says Sophie, 10. “Today I’ve written about 69 lines of code,” says Enrico, 10, also interested in being a computer programmer.

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