Our guest blogger this month is Latrice Betz, the School-Based Technology Specialist at Newington Forest. She recently presented two very popular sessions on computer coding at our annual Family Engineering Night. If you are planning a STEM evening, we highly recommend adding this to your community event.
“ I had no idea that this was so much fun!”
At the Newington Forest Elementary Annual Family Engineering Night, sessions on coding were offered to parents and students. For students, this was an exploration of how their favorite games are created. For parents, it was an opportunity to hear about the benefits of their child learning how to code. Some of the students had previously participated in Computer Science Education Week’s “Hour of Code.” It was such a big hit nationwide and the media reported that 5 million students in 35,000 schools across 167 countries completed their first hour of code. This event was successful and heavily supported, even by President Obama, because coding promotes essential skills like problem-solving as well as critical and creative thinking. The enthusiasm for coding increased at our school and a decision was made to include it in the school’s engineering evening.
During the Coding sessions at Family Engineering Night, a mini computer lab was set up for parents and students to receive hands-on learning with self-directed game-like activities to explore basic codes using drag and drop programming. The Angry Bird game on Code.org was one of the activities that involved parents and students collaborating to solve the puzzle of getting the angry bird to catch the pig. Through this activity they learned that a set of codes gives the computer directions to perform a task. After the first 20 minutes of the session, I noticed the parents were engaged and having just as much fun learning to code as the kids. Everyone walked away from this session with a better understanding of what coding is all about, a desire to learn more, and with a spark of interest in computer science. A hand-out of resources was provided that could be used at home. Some of the websites shared were:
Hour of Code
Platform: Web Browser
Platform: Web Browser
Daisy the Dinosaur
Download from the App Store
We also recommend the book : Super Scratch Programming Adventure from the LEAD Project.