Glenridge, Meramec, Ralph M. Captain students celebrate Computer Science Education Week

CLAYTON, Mo. – Students at the Clayton School District participated in an Hour of Code each day this week in celebration of Computer Science Education Week.

Glenridge, Meramec and Ralph M. Captain Elementary Schools provided students with a variety of activities to reflect their interests and grade levels.

At Glenridge, students worked on Kodable, from Code.org; Minecraft or Dance Party. At Meramec, students were taken through a museum of sciences to work on Cube-bet-o; Ozobot: Code Color; Osmo-coding; Kodable; Sphero Maze and Dot and Dash. Students at Captain used the different themes and topics on Code.org which had visual and modeling steps as well as a variety of levels to match the students’ understanding.

“it’s reassuring that we’re meeting their needs and challenging them and getting them to kind of think outside their comfort zone,” Mark Lynn, Educational Technology Specialist at Captain Elementary said.

Planning a week of Hour of Code events is not a simple task. The teachers involved in the planning process collaborated with their schools, their teachers and their students to provide the best activities and resources possible. Then, during the week, the planning still focused on collaborating with and encouraging the students and teachers. Students were also shown a video from Code.org which gave them more background on what Hour of Code is and why it is fun and interesting to learn.

Glenridge Librarian Media Specialist, Jude Hagene, explains Hour of Code to students (DANIELLE MAE FRANKLIN/CLAYTON TIMES)

“It’s job-ready skills. There are over 500,000 job openings in coding right now. What we’re trying to do is prepare our kids for the future, well and the present, jobs,” Jude Hagene, Librarian Media Specialist at Glenridge Elementary said. “It’s also about problem-solving, creativity and creating technology. Coding is teaching them to be creators of technology versus just users of technology.”

The students are encouraged to really try and work through the problems of the activities, not immediately giving up when the problem isn’t solved the first time or the robot isn’t doing what they’re trying to get it to do. Keeping a growth mindset was very important throughout the week.

The students are also encouraged to work on the activities at home or in a different out of school environment through the resources given to them and their parents or by going onto the Hour of Code website.

Through the Hour of Code event, the students have the opportunity to become more than just users of technology. They are manipulating the technology and becoming creators. This use of their skills gives them a sense of empowerment.

Meramec Elementary got the chance to blend library science and computer science with the help of Carmen Marty, Educational Technology Specialist; Jeri Lynn Palmer, Librarian Media Specialist; Celeste Gillette, Library Assistant and Marty’s fifth-grade Technology Leaders, who provided student voices on how Computer Science Education Week was going to look.

Meramec Elementary Educational Technology Specialist, Carmen Marty, explains Hour of Code to students (DANIELLE MAE FRANKLIN/CLAYTON TIMES)

“It raises a lot of thinking and a lot of great, creative conversations. When we start the program off for the kids and they come to the library, we show them a slideshow and talk about how the theme is creativity,” Marty said. “There are so many jobs out there now that involve computer science, so getting them started young, thinking that it’s fun to code instead of it’s hard to code, is really helpful. I think it’s given them a lot of exposure and also the teachers a lot of exposure to the resources we’re lucky enough to have here at Meramec.”

The students have the opportunity to practice troubleshooting, problem-solving, visual thinking, coding, patience, resistance and perseverance. They are also taking the time to collaborate with each other and assisting their classmates with other options in solving the activities at hand.

“The students can see that information comes from both digital and print forms. I’m sometimes skeptical, but the students are physically moving, using dexterity, visually problem solving, reading and coding and each one is encouraging students to work together,” Palmer said. “It’s really cultivating the patience to problem solve.”

Meramec Elementary Librarian Media Specialist, Jeri Lynn Palmer, tells students how library science and computer science blend together (DANIELLE MAE FRANKLIN/CLAYTON TIMES)

Acknowledging that the technology is not going away allows students and adults to understand the value that coding has to offer. With more and more job positions becoming available, teachers are recognizing that computer science is providing many career paths and they are giving those resources to their students as early as possible. It is also showing how mathematics, writing and art can be integrated together with technology.

“This is integral. School is about preparing kids for the workforce,” Hagene said. “It’s kind of hard to see that when you’re talking to a second grader, but they’re not adults or anywhere close to that yet, but everything they do with technology is helping prepare them for their adult world.”

Clayton’s Elementary schools have participated in Hour of Code for four years or more. Each year, the teachers are getting more involved and working with the students to show the students the importance and fun of coding. The students’ excitement has become the driving force of the event.

In January, Captain Elementary will be hosting a STEAM Night, including science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics and coding, to the students and their families to be part of the fun activities.

“It’s going to be a really cool event and we’re hoping that we do it each year,” Lynn said. “We talked about maybe doing it first semester and second semester going into the next year depending on how it goes.”

It can be difficult for schools to figure out where to place computer science within the rest of the curriculum that needs to be taught. However, there are many career paths that computer science touches. Helping students start out at a younger age to find it interesting and exciting will continue to help them in the fields of problem solving and creativity.

Glenridge Elementary students participate in Hour of Code through Minecraft program (DANIELLE MAE FRANKLIN/CLAYTON TIMES)

“I like this because I get to work on computers and I like working on electronic stuff,” Aiden Kim, a third-grade student at Glenridge Elementary said.

Not only were the elementary schools participating throughout the week, but Clayton High School’s Robotics Team, a group 30 girls and 30 boys, visited Meramec with their robot. The team talked with the younger students about the uses of computer science, the process of building the robot, team competitions and more.

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FEATURED IMAGE/Robot by Clayton High School’s Robotics Team