In Our Schools | Students Learn to Code at Arroyo Seco Jr. High with “Hour of Code” Event
Video by Halie Cook
William S. Hart Union High School District students got the chance to get a hands on learning experience with computer coding during the global “Hour of Code” event.
Hour of Code is a global event that reaches tens of millions of students in over 180 countries to learn how to code, from basic logic to complex strings of code.
Arroyo Seco Junior High was one of the schools that participated in the event. Lessons taught students everything from simple coding logic to building and designing the code to operate robots.
Some students started on a mini-flash game known as Lightbot to understand the basics of if/then coding logic. The game challenged students to move a virtual robot over blue tiles by putting in simple command codes.
Other students went a bit more advanced with the coding, taking some popular games, like Minecraft and Flappy Bird, and using code to play the games in a different way.
“What they do is they take their line of code (and) put it into a block where (they) know (they) can connect (the codes together),” said Jack Thompson, a seventh grade student at Arroyo Seco. “They are able to use this and put it together like a puzzle to create their own game and complete an objective.”
At the top level, coding students had the chance to build robots that worked like cars and code in a language known as “ROBOTC” to have the robots operate without direct control from the students.
The robotics lesson is not just part of the Hour of Code, it’s a full exploratory class that the Junior High offers to students every quarter.
For nine weeks, students can learn robotics, 3D printing or aerodynamics, according to a pamphlet the school supplied that details the program called “Project Lead The Way: Gateway or PLTW.”
Exploratory courses in the PLTW are part of Arroyo Seco’s goal of teaching students more about Science Technology Engineering and Math, or STEM, careers, said Dave Caldwell, public information officer for the William S. Hart Union High School District.
“It really sparks interest in the students,” said Daniel Elliot, the robotics teacher at Arroyo Seco. “They get to actually do (something) rather than just learn about it in a book. At the beginning there is not too much excitement but after a few weeks we start to see the excitement building in their faces and they enjoy doing their projects.”
The Hart School District has worked with PLTW to help students interested in engineering to take their interests from their junior high school, carry it over into high school, then to College of the Canyons and finally to CSUN, Caldwell said.
“They are more confident in technical subjects,” said Mike McCleary, an engineering teacher with Arroyo Seco. “They are better prepared to be engineers and work in STEM fields when they grow up and just generally get better at problem solving. It turns out every job you need to solve problems.”
This is the second year that Arroyo Seco Junior High School has implemented these programs and many of the teachers and Principal Rhondi Durand said it was a great experience for the kids.(c) 2015 SCVTV