Hour of Code
Jan 04, 2015 07:51PM
● By Jennifer Neys
College Park students participate in the December 5 Hour of Code event.
Computers are everywhere and tech jobs are unfulfilled, yet, alarmingly, fewer schools teach computer science than they did ten years ago. That’s why a group of tech-aware College Park High School community members joined the largest computer science learning event in history, bringing two Hour of Code sessions to its students last month and the Community Focus was there to see it happen.
“I first learned of the Hour of Code last February, when meeting with Valley View Principal Ean Ainsworth on a related issue regarding its technology focus at the middle school. Mr. Ainsworth mentioned VVMS’ involvement in the Hour of Code and it stuck with me all year,” said Kelly St. Germain, parent of a College Park student and Pleasant Hill Education Commissioner. When this year’s program, organized by the nonprofit Code.org, was announced, St. Germain recognized this turnkey opportunity to bring a snippet of computer science to the high school, and she approached the administration, PTSA and teachers to gauge interest. And the interest was burgeoning.
With less than a two-week turnaround, a few College Park parents and staff collaborated and pulled off the after school Hour of Code event. Principal Paul Gengler was quick to throw in his support to help launch the program, providing access to the computer science lab, crafting a principal’s message to the Falcon community, and working with district personnel to thwart any potential technical issues. In addition, mathematics teachers Kathleen Strange, Mark Furtado, and Christopher Gray fervently embraced the program, helping to evaluate and select the lesson plans prior to the two Hour of Code sessions, and attending, hosting and proctoring the actual Hour of Code event.
District personnel Joshua Wittman, director of technology support, and Nona Nattkemper, district site tech, were vital supporters, assisting the effort by ensuring proper student paperwork was on file and log in passwords were available, and technology was fully functional.
Parent volunteers/PTSA members Joann Jacobs and Kelly St. Germain carefully orchestrated all logistics of the event. To create a high tech feel, iPads and touch-screen laptops were provided to allow students to sign in; Google online registration forms were created to capture students’ contact info and level of coding expertise; disposable ear buds were provided and “how to” instructions were developed. “We expected to see perhaps seven to ten interested students and were prepared to give them a true high-tech, high-touch, hands-on coding experience that would spark their interest in computer science,” said St. Germain. “As the Hour of Code was about to begin, the handful of parents, teachers, administration and IT support anxiously prepared the new College Park computer lab for the trickle in of the students. There was not a trickle of students, but a flood. Over sixty students enthusiastically took part in the first College Park Hour of Code! There is clearly a student interest for computer science and technology, as well as a parent, teacher and administrative desire to meet this interest. We consider the event to be a huge success, and together, we look forward to bringing even more robust programs to our school,” beamed St. Germain
To learn more about Hour of Code, visit www.hourofcode.com/us.