The third graders were just introduced to Sphero Mini, a small spherical robot that can be controlled with an iPad. As expected, they were very excited to try it. Cries of “That’s so cool!” and “I want to use one of those!” were heard as soon as the box was opened.
After having some time to explore what the robot does, the students were given a task: using coding blocks, program Sphero to roll in a square. This required a bit more thinking. Students had to plan what their program would be, thinking about what steps it would take to create a square. They had to break down the problem and sequence the steps correctly. They had to work together to find a solution. When (not if) they didn’t get the code correct, they had to ask questions, learn from their mistakes, and keep trying.
Our third graders weren’t just controlling a robot: they were problem-solving. Though their “problem” was to make a simple square, we know that technology and computer programming will increasingly help us to solve big world problems, from improving health care, to storing energy, to cleaning up the ocean. Today’s students will be the individuals who use technology to solve these problems. Whenever we can give Roycemore students a chance to practice such problem-solving skills, we take it, whether that be third graders creating squares with Sphero, Middle Schoolers planning their personal passion projects, or Upper School students creating apps to promote zero waste during the Creative Jam in November.
Computer scientists, educators, and other professionals have realized the power of the problem-solving skills gained from computer coding. Though the #1 source of new wages in the US, these skills are not just important for those who will someday be computer programmers. All students benefit from the communication, collaboration, and creative thinking involved in coding activities. These are, in fact, at the top of the list of skill sets on the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report.
The Hour of Code is a global movement to introduce computer coding to people of all ages, by encouraging them to complete one hour of coding during the week. It takes place during Computer Science Education Week, in recognition of the birthday of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906). The movement began a few years ago and has grown exponentially since; this year there are over 105,000 Hour of Code events scheduled around the world.
“The Hour of Code is designed to demystify code and show that computer science is not rocket science—anybody can learn the basics,” said Hadi Partovi, founder and CEO of Code.org. “Over 100 million students worldwide have tried an Hour of Code. The demand for relevant 21st-century computer science education crosses all borders and knows no boundaries.”
Roycemore is hosting one of those events!
We will hold our Sixth Annual Hour of Code Celebration this Friday, December 13, from 3:15 to 4:30 pm in the Multipurpose Room. All Roycemore students and families are welcome!
Roycemore students will not only try the Hour of Code during our Friday event. Our Hour of Code Celebration serves as the culmination of a week of coding activities that will take place throughout the school. In addition to the third graders programming Sphero to roll around, kindergarten students interacted with Osmo coding blocks to build problem solving skills, first grade students coded a dance routine, and fifth grade students programmed games with a coding program called Scratch.
And coding activities do not just take place during this one week in December! Several Upper School students are enrolled in our Computer Science course this year, where they are learning the Python programming language, and have created their own version of a fast-food kiosk. Middle School students have the opportunity to participate in two STEM-related after-school clubs: Robotics and Video Game Programming. Projects from all of these courses and clubs will be showcased at our Hour of Code Celebration on Friday. We hope to see you there!