by Andrea Tehan Carnes, STEAM Coordinator (written on Dec. 9, 2015)
All of the students at Stoneleigh-Burnham School participated the international Hour of Code event today as part of Computer Science Education Week! The Hour of Code is organized by Code.org, a public 501c3 non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, and to increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. The activities that the girls worked on in the Hour of Code are designed to help demystify code through simple tutorials and activities that show students that anyone really can learn to code!
The girls were split up by class, with the 8th grade being split in two smaller groups. They were given some background on why they were doing the project and then guided through the coding activities by their fellow students. Seven student leaders led the #HourofCode initiative that was organized by Stoneleigh-Burnham’s S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) Coordinator, Andrea Tehan Carnes. The student leaders were all volunteers who have a passion for coding that they wanted to share with their classmates. The girls who led the event were: 8th graders Elizabeth Flynn and Marina Keator, 9th grader Sydney Wallace, 10th graders Huhua (Nana) Liu and Miles DeClue, 11th grader Phoebe Karkos and 12th grader Charlotte Minsky. It was awesome to see the girls at work, teaching their classmates about why coding is an important skill to learn, and guiding the girls through any questions they had while they were completing their activities.
Why is learning to code so important? According to code.org’s statistics gathered by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 67% of all new jobs in STEM are in computing, and that number continues to grow as our society becomes increasingly dependent on technology. Even if our girls do not choose to major in Computer Science, having any background knowledge in coding will set them apart as they apply to college and eventually enter the workforce.
The success of this event is measured by Code.org not in how much computer science (CS) the girls learned, but rather that so many young women in our school were reached, sparking an interest to want to learn more, participate in future computer science events, or even eventually enroll in computer science in college. Our girls were asked to take a brief survey at the end of our #HourofCode event to comment on what they learned and how they felt about taking an hour out of their day to do this. One girl commented, “[I am] eager to learn new things and that code is something interesting I think is worth learning.” When asked about what they learned about themselves as learners, one girl wrote, “I’m not afraid to try out different things and see which work.” One overall insightful thought another student shared was, “At first I wasn't sure about how this would be, but it was really fun and I made some great games.” All of the participants filled this survey out, and it's clear the girls had a great time learning a new skill and were in general very surprised at how fun and easy coding is. Overwhelmingly, the girls asked to participate in more activities like this one and to also have links sent to them so that they can learn on their own!
It was a great hour and a wonderful day learning code at the Stoneleigh-Burnham School, and more computer science activities are already in the works!