GRC students learn to code

Published 10:39 am Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Step one: Get a glass. Step two: Get the quart of milk. Step three: Open the quart of milk.

And so on and so on.

There are specific steps one must take to pour a glass of milk, Maria Richards, a George Rogers Clark High School teacher, said. People must do the steps in a precise order to achieve the end goal. It’s an algorithm.

Richards said algorithms are the first step to learning code, and the Clark County Public Schools district is going to dive deeper into coding this week as part of the annual, global Hour of Code event.

“It encourages problem-solving and critical thinking,” Richards said. “And the games are very interdisciplinary. So even students who are interested more in arts or more in English can find an application with coding.”

Connie Cobb, GRC media specialist, said GRC has participated in the Hour of Code for about four years. However, this year is the first year during which the entire school district will participate.

“In the last four years, we’ve had people code who have never touched a computer,” Cobb said.

Cobb said some high schoolers worked with an elementary school last year during the Hour of Code, and after seeing its success, decided to try to involve the entire district.

Preschoolers and high schoolers and every student in between will have the opportunity to learn “code,” whether it is learning what a step-by-step process — or algorithm — is or using a coding language to make a character move in a program.

According to its website, the Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify “code,” to show anybody can learn the basics and to broaden participation in the field of computer science.

It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with one-hour coding activities but expanding to all sorts of community efforts. This grassroots campaign is supported by more than 400 partners and 200,000 educators worldwide, according to its website.

The Hour of Code takes place each year during Computer Science Education Week, which is Dec. 3-9.

Students can do paper or computer activities.

Richards said it was important they had paper activities available because every class may not have access to computers.

“And so with this (paper activity), it says, choose a task that you complete every day from the following lists like brushing your teeth, making your bed, etc.,” Richards said. “And you can choose whatever task you want. And what you’re doing is you write an algorithm for the task that includes precise language, and all of the steps. “

In previous years, Cobb said she has had guest speakers talk to students about possible career paths that involve coding.

All students who participate can receive a certificate or a sticker to show they coded.

Richards said students are learning an element of analytical reasoning and spatial reasoning and how that applies to writing out a procedure for how something.

However, this event could also be the beginning, especially for young girls and minorities, to future careers that involve some element of coding.

“This is a huge bridge, especially with 21st-Century skills, that we’re going to need,” Richards said. “We’re venturing more into technology…it’s got to come down to do students know how to use this technology, and how to design with it.”

About Lashana Harney

Lashana Harney is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. Her beats include schools and education, business and commerce, Winchester Municipal Utilities and other news. To contact her, email lashana.harney@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0015.

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