Celebrating National Computer Science Education Week

Oley Valley School District  |  Posted on

During the week of December 6-10, fifth graders in Oley Valley School District had an awesome time celebrating National Computer Science Education Week in math and English language arts classrooms! Every year, students and adults of all ages across the nation share in expanding their horizons in the STEM world of computer science. This educational STEM week will always fall during December 9 in recognition of the birthday of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, born December 9, 1906 (the very man who coined the term computer “bug”). Through various activities, digital and “unplugged,” students explored coding in many different forms, and additionally, where an interest in coding could lead them to one day in hobbies and careers.

The Hour of Code webpage on Khan Academy’s website has incredible computer programming learning courses (that also go way beyond the Hour of Code), and introduces learners to the basic commands in writing JavaScript code. Through learning how to write JavaScript code for simple shapes on a coordinate plane, coloring, basic animations and troubleshooting proper syntax, students created digital snowmen. Grasshopper was also demonstrated — it allows you to set up an account at home and begin JavaScript without the challenge of syntax errors initially, using click-and-drag commands for mimicking designs.

Another concept, block coding, was addressed specifically on Code.org and Scratch from MIT. As opposed to the JavaScript, CSS and HTML forms of typing code commands, the block-based coding is very helpful for beginners because they can drag-and-drop commands, statements and actions. Some fifth graders used Code.org to program a series of tasks and problem-solve missions to beat levels in a Minecraft-style game, while others utilized Scratch to design interactive holiday cards. Additionally, students watched how block coding apps can communicate a series of movements to a simple robot — the ultimate goal of applying engineering after designing with mathematical statements and technology!

Lastly, our concepts of computational thinking and processing were extended to an “unplugged” lesson. After designing MadLibs-style original stories, the missing word blanks that were labeled with various parts of speech acted as “variables” in coding. Inputting different words drastically changed the outcome of the story, just as inputting a different “x” or “y” drastically altered a coded design or command.