District 57 celebrates Computer Science Week with Hour of Code

K-eight kids rock the code with national grass-roots program

Submitted by Mount Prospect District 57

Mount Prospect School District 57 celebrated Computer Science Education Week across all four of its schools with Hour of Code. Initially, developed as a one-hour introductory coding program for students, the Hour of Code initiative has evolved into a global movement championing computer science education.

"Computer science skill-building is vital to so many personal and professional pursuits," said Mark Fijor, director of technology at District 57. "It's so important that students see how coding can impact their futures, and the Hour of Code provides an opportunity for every student throughout the district to experience success with coding."

District 57's Lincoln Middle School students spent their Hour of Code training a robot to recognize trash in a polluted ocean. This advanced coding project incorporated artificial intelligence (AI), enabling the robot to apply its training for effective environmental cleanup. These middle schoolers also trained animals to dance and solved binary code puzzles.

"Hour of Code was such a fun and engaging experience for me," said Nicholas C., an eighth-grader at Lincoln Middle School. "Using block coding, we made a dance party with a bunch of different animals, backgrounds and songs. I'm so grateful our school lets us participate in these kinds of things."

"The Hour of Code is a forum for our students to collaborate, engage in creative coding, persevere through challenges, and develop their critical thinking," said Michelle Walsh, Learning Resource Center director at Lincoln Middle School.

At the elementary levels, students spent their hour coding musical arrangements and using other coding apps from the hundreds offered on the Hour of Code website. The district's youngest students in kindergarten and first grade practiced adapting to changing conditions for their virtual pet, feeding their pet when he was hungry or playing when bored. These students also worked to instruct a robot out of a maze using directional commands.

Hour of Code is a grass-roots campaign supported by over 400 partners and 200,000 educators worldwide. As stated on their website, "Computer Science Education Week is an annual call to action to inspire K-12 students to learn computer science, advocate for equity, and celebrate the contributions of students, teachers, and partners n the field."

The district plans to continue and expand this programming in future years.

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