‘Hour of Code’ lets Colby kids try computer programming
Technology surrounds us every day and almost everywhere we go. It powers our homes and businesses, helps us navigate the world and can even be used for simple things, like ordering food or interacting with friends.
All of this is made possible through the use of computer codes, some of which are very intricate, while others are simple, easy and fun to learn.
As technology advances and the world becomes more and more accessible, the Colby School District is promoting computer programming by taking part in the Hour of Code, an international learning event that has reached nearly a billion people worldwide in 180 countries since it began 10 years ago.
The Dec. 13 event was coordinated by CESA 10 representative Jennifer Peck, who specializes in college readiness and is a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education consultant.
Peck was happy to see that after last year’s successful Hour of Code, that Colby “had stepped it up to the next level.”
Peck was especially pleased to see how much fun students at Colby had with the event, and the possibilities STEM and coding represent for the future.
“What I hear from kids, parents, guidance counselors is one of the barriers to getting kids involved in tech careers is they have to see it to believe it,” Peck explained. “If they see that there are high tech careers being done by people that look like them in their own community. . . . it helps them understand . . . that every industry is touched by computer science.”
Students in fourth through eighth grades spent one hour Dec. 13 attempting to use simple computer codes, with the goals of opening up their eyes to careers in STEM. Several professionals from within the technology field were on hand to help students see how simple codes work and how technology impacts our everyday lives. Theses included Jody Volkman, a former chemistry teacher at the Neillsville School District who now works as a solutions analyst.
Volkman explained the importance of reaching students early about technology, and about taking away the mystery and intimidation of coding and computer science.
“The younger the kids are, the more willing they are to make mistakes, try again, and keep making mistakes over and over again until they get it right,” Volkman says. “If you work with older students, they just want to get the task done, but fourth and fifth graders dig in and try and explore and want to keep going.”
Peck also hopes an event like Hour of Code gets more women and people of color involved in computer sciences.
“Women entering computer science professions now is less than when I was in high school,” Peck said. “We’ve seen a dip, but now that dip is on its way up because of efforts like Hour of Code.”
Peck said for those interested in learning more about Hour of Code they can visit https:// code.org/, but above all, Peck wants people to know that coding comes with a choice.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, in our information age and high tech culture, you have a decision to make,” she said. “You can be a consumer or you can be a creators. Our kids today are being creators.”