Hour of Code teaches programming to students and faculty


Learning to program– Sophomore Gautham Rajeshkumar (left) attempts programming with the assistance of sophomores Robbie Fishel (center) and Ronit Banerjee (right) who are volunteers. Hour of Code volunteers consisted of members of the robotics team and students taking computer science classes.

Pei Chao Zhuo, Opinions Editor

  The fifth annual Hour of Code took place at the library on Wednesday, December 6 and Friday, December 9. It was open to all students and faculty and served as an introduction to computer programming for newcomers.  

  The event at the high school was part of global initiative by Code.org to introduce millions of people in 180 countries to computer programming during Computer Science Education Week. This year, 112,588 Hour of Code events occured throughout the world. Similar events occurred at East Farms School, West Woods School, and Union School to expose younger students to computer science.

  “I noticed that they don’t teach coding classes in the elementary schools, and I feel like that’s a big problem because it is hard to spark interest in computing at a young age if they are not exposed to it,” junior Dara Hechter said.

  Activities differ by skill level. Elementary school students played games that exposed them to various computer science concepts. Over 200 students in the district participated in the Hour of Code and were exposed to activities that accommodated a wide range of interests. One coding activity for elementary schoolers, based on the popular video game, Minecraft, allowed participants to manipulate the movement of characters. Older students learned the more advanced computer science concepts like text based programming, encryption, game development, and animation.

   “With the help of their high school peers, [students] can really find activities that suit them and maybe spark a further interest in the field,” Hechter said.

  A website created by student volunteers listed the 21 activities available to participants. Dozens of volunteers in bright blue shirts who are either on the robotics team or taking a computer science class were available to help struggling students. Snacks were also served.

  The event introduced students to a wide breadth of computer science topics, and for some students, particular topics stood out.

  “I liked playing with the encryption program to learn about the different types of ciphers and how messages can be disguised,” said senior Steven Coleman.

  Students of all grades were present. Some participants saw the event as an enjoyable way to be introduced to an unfamiliar subject.

  “It seemed like a fun opportunity to explore the facets of coding without having to make a long term commitment to it,” junior Reya Kalaiarasu said.

  The goal of the event is to encourage more students to pursue computer science as a field of study and as a career. According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), by 2024, only 45% of the 1.1 million new computer science jobs available will be filled by U.S. graduates.

  “There are tremendous opportunities in Computer Science related fields available, and not enough people pursuing them,” computer science teacher Timothy Barron said.

  Given a variety of topics to explore in one hour, students saw how computer science can be applied to various subjects. The event has inspired some participants to further their study of programming.

  “I, myself, got into coding in last year’s Hour of Code, and actually it’s one of my favorite subjects of the day now. It’s even what I plan to major in,” said junior Yash Sabarad who was a volunteer.