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Draper Journal

Hundreds of Channing Hall students come to Hour of Code session

Mar 01, 2018 11:34AM ● By Julie Slama

A Channing Hall student created a code for the Ozobot as other students tried out other technology at the school's first Hour of Code event. (Missy Badberg/Channing Hall)

Every week, Channing Hall librarian Missy Badberg introduces students to a little about coding from Scratch to Ozobots, so when the opportunity came to host the school’s first Hour of Code, she was excited.

Badberg planned to allow students about 20 minutes at each station and even had a couple sixth-graders and parents volunteer to help teach younger students. 

“I expected 50, but had about 300 kids pouring into the gym,” she said about the two-hour event. “I was blown away by the response, and the kids want more. Obviously, we’ll do Hour of Code at least once every year.”

Sixth-grader Nathan Astin, who wants to be a computer programmer, was one of the student volunteers Dec. 8, teaching his peers about how to write code for Ozobots, which are tiny robots that can identify lines, colors and codes on paper as well as digitally.

“I taught them how to have their Ozobot reverse, spin, stop, go fast and follow a trail from one point to the end,” Nathan said. “They’re fun and I liked being able to watch kids learn about technology.”

His classmate, Harrison Reading, liked sharing what he knew about the Spheros, a white orb that rolls in the direction controlled by an electronic device. 

“We had a ramp and obstacle course and they could make it move by moving their fingers on the iPad,” he said. “It gave us an idea of all we could do with Spheros.”

Sixth-grader Abby Holland volunteered to teach her schoolmates Scratch, a free online program that allows students to create and share interactive stories, games and animation. Abby learned it from her brother and dad when she was in third grade.

“It’s something I like to do in my free time. So I showed them how they could create games, dance, sing, tell stories, animate their name or make a card,” she said. “It was lots of fun and a lot of kids learned about coding.”

Her classmate, Sage Jenson, had a chance to learn Scratch.

“It’s really cool. I’ve never coded so I’d like to learn more,” she said.

However, when Sage, who came with her kindergarten-age brother, saw the crowd, she jumped in to help.

“I demonstrated at the littleBits station. We were able to snap together electronic modules to create all sorts of things. Two girls even made a car out of them,” she said. 

Badberg, who learned how to introduce students to the technology at a Maker Fair several years ago, said they also had stations with Legos, tinker toys, computer science and coding books and Makey Makey invention kits. The kits allowed students to attach alligator clips onto everyday objects on one end, and on the other end to the Makey Makey kit, and then, those objects become touchpads for the computer.

 “We let students migrate on their own so they could learn at all the different stations. We’re in the process of setting up our own maker space at the school and would like to start an after-school club, but right now, students are learning mostly coding and doing a little tinkering,” she said.

Badberg said the Hour of Code also exposed students to the computer science field that is in need of more qualified people.

“We hear there are 10,000 job openings for only 50 applicants. We need to prepare our students for this field and encourage girls who may not see it as ‘a girl thing to do.’ Oftentimes, it’s seen as a solitary work, but it’s the social skills and being able to work as a team that are also needed,” she said.

In the meantime, Badberg plans to continue allowing students to problem-solve with technology during the library sessions.

“It’s fun for the kids to figure things out by themselves, to think about it and gain a sense of accomplishment,” she said. “We’re an inquiry-based school so this allows students to think, come up with ideas and find their own resolution.”