SF students participate in Apple, Google’s Hour of Code

Published Dec 6, 2013 at 4:15 pm (Updated Dec 6, 2013 at 4:15 pm)

Students at South Fayette Elementary and Intermediate schools were urged to “Keep Calm and Keep Coding.” More than 1,400 students in the two schools are taking part in an Hour of Code, part of a worldwide initiative organized by Code.org and supported by Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, the Boys and Girls Club of America and others.

The South Fayette students are among more than 2 million students worldwide participating, spending one hour or more learning and working with code – the act of writing a computer program in a programming language. The program coincides with Computer Science Education week and runs through Dec. 15, and also goes hand-in-hand with the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) initiative at South Fayette.

“It’s included into every curriculum area,” said Aileen Owens, director of technology for the South Fayette School District. “It captures their imagination at a young age and demystifies coding.”

“The coders are the wizards of today,” said Melissa Drake, a STEAM teacher at the intermediate school.

Some aspects of coding will be included in each of the students’ special classes, such as physical education. Students are learning fitness code, choreography code and puzzle code, among other types. Second-graders are learning coding using a program called Scratch and are developing a math quiz to be used in their classes.

Shad Wachter, technology literacy teacher at the intermediate school, has students making holiday cards using code. Students searched the internet on laptop computers to find images for their cards and then used coding to animate the images.

Fourth-grader Susie Haviland said she likes “creating all the little animations and making them move and change” using code. Haviland added she and her friend make things using Scratch on the weekends.

Dea Monz, a fourth-grader, was making a holiday card. “I’m taking a picture of a snowman from a movie and making him dance around and change colors,” she said. “It’s kind of hard, but once you get used to it, it’s fun.”

Second-grader Kaylee LeViseur, who was learning the Scratch program for the first time, said she liked it because “we get to make new games.”

“It’s good,” said second-grader Tyler Nicholson, who said he especially liked making the quiz because he is good at math. He said this wasn’t his first time using Scratch and he has played on it at home. “My sister plays in it all the time,” he said.

“It’s good because I really like math because math is really fun,” added second-grader Rudy Morris.

“We think we’re going to have lots of future programmers,” Owens said.

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