Do you know a student who is interested in the fields of science, technology, engineering or math? Are you looking for ways to help them satisfy their curiosity and open doors of possibilities for their future? In this fast-paced world, it’s never been more important than now to instill a sense of wonder and excitement about technology in our rising generations. The students of Cherokee County schools are no exception and should be given every opportunity to receive the tools to put them on the technological cutting edge.
One such way that doors are being opened is through programs focusing on science, technology, engineering, and math (known as STEM schools). Across the country, these STEM schools are laying the groundwork for the eventual career success of middle and high school-aged kids. One area that has seen an explosion of growth in recent years is that of computer science, bringing about a need for people skilled in creating code (or computer language). Whether creating new apps for smart phones and tablets or improving existing computer software, STEM schools show students that knowing how to code is vitally important to opening doors to a successful career in computer science.
Another program intent on helping kids is the Hour of Code; designed to globally encourage students of any age, in any country to engage in hour-long tutorials on the importance and ease of coding. In 40 languages, with the capability to be run by any person sharing the desire to bring to life students’ passion for computer science, the Hour of Code can change a community–a community just like ours.
In December, schools across Cherokee County took part in the Hour of Code! Read on to find out what students experienced in this exciting educational initiative.
Woodstock Elementary School
“My students at Woodstock Elementary have participated in the Hour of Code all 3 years. The first year was with me in the computer lab. The last two years with me in the iPad Lab. Each year I try to add something new and exciting so the students will want to learn to code. Last year we did the HourofCode.com the first week. Then my surprise for the 2nd week was coding with The Foos app for K, 1 & 2nd. For 3-5th we learned storytelling coding with the scratch jr app. This year we didhourofcode.com for week one where we coded with the Star Wars characters. Then my surprise for the 2nd and 3rd weeks were planned well in advance. Over the summer I set up a Donors Choose account and kept announcing it on my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts until I had fully funded 3 sets of dash and dot code-able robots. Then a few weeks ago I learned through Twitter that the Sphero company had created the BB-8 for the Star Wars movie and they had a student version. So knowing the kids were going to code Star Wars characters for hourofcode.com I had to get one. So I started asking my principal and the CCSD technology department. Sending all costs and specs and that 1,150 students would be coding these robots with me. The week before the first Robot day we received 2 BB-8 robots- a present from the CCSD tech dept and one from our principal Kim Montalbano. When I revealed the two different robots it was the most excitement I have ever witnessed in my 21 years of teaching. I showed the students the tape tracks I made on the floors and how the TickleApp worked to code both types of robots. We had the best week ever. Such a great way to practice our coding skills in a real world way! Coding uses planning & practicing over and over until SUCCESS! Those not coding robots were working on our other coding apps and typing thank you notes to all of our donors. Feel free to ask me questions or come visit.”
Kristen Brooks-Technology Teacher-Woodstock Elementary School iPad Lab
Woodstock High School
“Steve Epperson’s AP Computer Science class, at Woodstock High School, celebrated the Hour of Code by sharing the love of coding with other schools in the county. Through LifeSize video conferencing equipment, his students taught and interacted with 3rd, 5th and 6th graders at Mountain Road and Indian Knoll Elementary Schools and Creekland Middle School. They introduced students to the language and idea of coding through demonstrations and extension activities. They also showed them coding with programs such as CodeChef and Scratch. WHS media specialist, Leslie Hicks coordinated with IKES media specialist, Jennifer Lewis, MRES media specialist Shelley Sheldon, and CLMS media specialist, Anne Benton. They then coordinated and planned with their teachers. Mr. Epperson’s students planned for months before delivering their lessons. Jennifer Lewis, media specialist at Indian Knoll ES stated, “Our teachers and students LOVED the sessions. They were very age-appropriate and kept our students’ attention. They also sparked an interest in coding. I look forward to seeing what our students are inspired to create as a result of the sessions.”
Leslie Hicks-Woodstock High School Media Specialist
Indian Knoll Elementary
“As an educator, Hour of Code is one of my favorite weeks of the year. I was first introduced to Hour of Code by a fellow educator last year. I signed my third graders up on the code.org site, introduced what little I knew, and let them explore. I was amazed at what they discovered and how quickly they learned programming.
This year, I wanted to take it a step further and offer them choices. The students had a choice of 16 different coding choices that not only involved code.org activities, but also hands-on coding (board game and Lego robotics), PC programs, and iPad apps. Furthermore, a high school in our district reached out to the elementary schools during the week of Hour of Code. The high school students used video conferencing equipment to converse with my students about programming. The high school students taught my students the importance of coding language by relating it to the steps in making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Another group of high school students taught my third graders about coding within Minecraft. My third graders were so excited about conversing with high schoolers and aim to take programming in high school now.
My third grade students thoroughly enjoyed conferencing with high schoolers and the choosing aspect of the coding choice board. They beg to do coding daily.”
~Marissa Williams-3rd Grade Teacher-Indian Knoll Elementary School
Holly Springs Elementary
“The Holly Springs Elementary STEM Academy participated in the Hour of Code the week of December 7-11. Students and adults around the world are encouraged to try coding. The HSES Media Center was coding headquarters for the school as students in grades K-6 tried (or extended) their experiences coding. Parents and teachers even got in on the action. Experienced coders enjoyed coding Spheros (robotic balls) and our Dash robot around mazes.”
~Stephanie Gauthia-Holly Springs Elementary-Media Specialist
Hasty Elementary School
“On Tuesday, December 8th, 4th graders coded in the Media Center as part of the Hour of Code. Our theme was participating in the MineCraft Coding Challenge.”
~Lori Brackett-Hasty Elementary School
*Check out the Tweets from the @HastyMediaCtr to see more from Hasty Elementary’s Hour of Code experience!