Just before the holidays, Osborn School students in grades two through five — 21 classes — took part in the Hour of Code program.
By Sarah Varney
Just before the holidays, Osborn School students in grades two through five — 21 classes — took part in the Hour of Code program. The free program is designed to introduce students to computer programming. It was started by Iranian twin brothers Ali and Hadi Partovi, who invested early in Dropbox and Facebook, and are now focused on philanthropy. They founded Code.org to encourage schools to expand programs in computer science and to get students interested in computer programming from a young age.
Osborn computer aide Alex Pandolphi, along with Osborn Principal Angela Garcia, spearheaded the effort to bring Hour of Code to the school. The program fits nicely with the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curricula that is currently in place at Rye High School.
“The kids loved the program; we had many who said they want to do more,” reported Dr. Garcia. “Coding exposes kids to the same skills as those in STEM. Hour of Code encourages critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration,” she added.
For Osborn students, the overall goal was to introduce them to the basics of programming using a visual building block strategy. Students learn how to direct a cartoon character through a maze using coded instructions. In an introductory video featuring Miami Heat basketball star Chris Bosh, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and former Black-eyed Peas front man W.I.L.L. I AM, the message is “Coders are the rock stars of tomorrow.” There is currently a lot of concern that in the future the U.S. will lack enough programmers to keep up with demand.
But it’s not just about convincing students computer science can be a good career choice. On a school level, the goal is more about giving students an opportunity to discover and exercise skills that will be ever more important as STEM courses begin to migrate from the high school level downward.
Since September, Rye High School has offered 50 students in grades 10 and 11 Introduction to Engineering Design, a yearlong STEM class. Rye Middle School has incorporated an Introduction to Robotics elective class in which 50 students participated.
In 2015, Rye High will offer Principles of Engineering, and a 3D Design and Architecture taught in conjunction with the Art Department is on the drawing board.