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Draper Elementary Gearing Up For Hour of Code

Dec 07, 2015 10:02AM ● Published by Julie Slama

By Julie Slama

Draper - Last winter, several Canyons School District schools joined students in more than 180 countries in a one-hour introduction to computer science and computer programming as part of the Hour of Code.

Already, more than 76,600 events around the globe in 40 languages are planned for this coming Dec. 7 week, encouraged by Spurred by Computer Science Education Week and Code.org. Draper Elementary is one of the schools planning to participate.

“We plan to launch coding in our computer classes that week by doing online coding activities in addition to our keyboarding and math practice on computer software,” Principal Piper Riddle said. “We wanted first to focus on keyboarding and once they’re proficient, then move on to more complex and rigorous application.”

Riddle said that the school will not only offer coding activities during the weeklong event, but will continue them as part of their regular rotation this year. 

“Coding is part of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) initiative and needs to be introduced as part of our elementary curriculum,” she said.

Draper Elementary also will offer coding and programming opportunities to students before and after school as well as during open computer lab hours. 

“Coding helps students understand how to look at math problems, especially patterns and algorithms. Through coding, students are able to problem-solve as well as increase their fluency of computer and math skills,” Riddle said.

Riddle said students responded well to the Hour of Code last year.

“It got them excited and they can’t wait to do it again this year. Coding may seem really complicated, but they find it’s not. When I see second-graders can understand the language and be able to code, it’s amazing. It’s opened up a whole new world in STEM to them,” she said.

Last year, educational technologist Camille Cole said that it would give students a chance to understand more about what they’re already doing on the computers.

“We want to give students an idea to coding and show them what a code looks like,” she said. “For example, many of our fifth-graders play Mindcraft and by learning coding, they gain the aspect of how it works. Computer science is where jobs will be and this allows them to create video games, not just play them. The more they are exposed to it at a younger age, the more they will feel comfortable and jump in feet first.”

Canyons School District Director of Career and Technical Education Janet Goble agreed with Cole last year, citing students are gaining skills not only in computer science and coding, but also in critical thinking, problem solving, math and teamwork.

“When elementary-age students participate in the Hour of Code, we’re breaking barriers and kids realize that they are learning skills that will benefit them in the future,” she said. “We have a computer technology graduation requirement, Exploring Computer Science, and these elementary kids already are being introduced to skills the same as our high school students.”   

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