Cougar Run students join in an Hour of Code
HIGHLANDS RANCH- This week is Computer Science Week and Cougar Run Elementary participated in the largest global learning movement in history, Hour of Code. Over 185,000 schools across the world are participating in this movement, and100 million people will join Hour of Code to promote computer science in education.
Computers are everywhere, but fewer schools teach computer science than ten years ago. Additionally, girls and minorities are severely underrepresented in computer science professions.
With Hour of Code, computer science has been on homepages of Google, MSN, Yahoo! and Disney. Over 100 partners joined together to support this movement. Last year, every Apple Store in the world hosted an Hour of Code and even President Obama wrote his first line of code as part of the campaign.
On Monday, 300 Cougar Run students and parents participated in the event. The evening began with brief presentations by ten professional software engineers in our local community, including Cougar Run Elementary's own Tina Granato, who serves as the school's Technology Integration Specialist. Additional guest speakers included Jim Roadifer, Product Director at JDA Software, Gary Bartels, Test Engineer from Lockheed Martin, David Lollini, Mission Manager at United Launch Alliance, Karl Archuleta, Senior Manager of Software Product Development at Terumo BCT, Stephanie St. George, Sr. Software Systems Engineer of Product Development at Terumo BCT, Rasch Young, Founder and CEO of Hybir Inc., Ebrahim and Shahrezad Behbahani, co-founders of ilmfinity, and Todd Benge, VP of Engineering at TrackVia.
Students then moved into break-out groups, collecting their classroom Chromebooks, and began working on a series of guided coding exercises that allowed them to either build a game based on Star Wars: The Force Awakens or walk a Minecraft character through the game's three-dimensional world.
"Everyone loved it. It was a huge success," said Granato. "Several of the kids are really excited about pursuing coding and computer science further, and I've had several parents asking what they can do to continue to encourage this and if there are classes around town that their children can get involved in."
For Granato and Cougar Run educators, the benefit and purpose of engaging students in Hour of Code is that it is improving students’ critical thinking and problem solving skills in a way that allows them to learn how to create, use, and understand technology, which is an essential skill for 21st century college and career readiness.
Granato additionally pointed out that the kids were gaining coding knowledge that she, herself, did not learn until college.
"They were learning programming logic," she said, referring to the tutorials. "It's really impressive to be able to share that with a child in Kindergarten," she said.