New stations, student demos highlight 2018 Hour of Code kickoff
For today’s students, coding or programming is part of everyday life – even if computers aren’t involved. It’s more about problem-solving, logic, and creativity, which arguably are essential skills in the 21st century classroom and workplace. “Coding makes a connection to what they’ll see in real life,” said Jerry Broyles, one of the district’s digital learning coaches.
The Office of Instructional Technology hosted the FCPS annual kickoff to national Computer Science Week (Dec. 3-9) and the global Hour of Code, a campaign that encourages everyone to grasp the basics of programming. “People who aren’t interested in video games should try it because it’s a good opportunity to learn. You get to play around with coding devices and try out different things, and you eventually get the hang of it,” said Colston Turner, a sixth-grader in Leestown Middle School’s pre-engineering program.
Broyles and his colleagues set up several stations in Conference Room C at central office, where employees popped in to try programming robots, writing code for characters to complete challenges, and debugging others’ work. “Coding isn’t just something you do on a computer. Now we have robots to launch baseballs and navigate mazes,” Broyles said, noting how the stations have evolved in recent years. The latest highlights included Sphero soccer, Ozobot color coding, dash and dot challenges, Sphero maze coding, and MaKey MaKeys.
Students from Leestown, Maxwell Spanish Immersion Magnet Elementary, and Carter G. Woodson Academy offered up advice as the adults rotated among the stations, and they showed off projects prepared for the Student Technology Leadership Program (STLP) regional competition. The Woodson group practiced handling their sumobots, which they built and programmed using LEGO Mindstorms, while the Maxwell team explained their interactive bulletin board with audio clips. The Maxwell STLP group also created games using MaKey MaKey and the visual programming language Scratch. Across the room, Colston and the other Leestown students demonstrated the animated game they designed with Minecraft: Education Edition and Scratch, which uses block coding.
“Block coding takes away tedious syntax and allows students to do what they want by moving blocks with their finger,” Broyles explained. “Block coding is a universal language for kids, and that’s a game changer.”