Strawberry Park Elementary students participate in Hour of Code | SteamboatToday.com

Strawberry Park Elementary students participate in Hour of Code

Teresa Ristow

Fifth-graders Ben Schott and Matthias Egger patrolled a small computer room at Strawberry Park Elementary School on Monday, making sure a group of second-graders was grasping its lesson on the basics of computer programming.

The boys are part of a 20-student information technology leadership group on campus and this week they presented to younger students about the importance of learning computer science.

"Ninety percent of schools don't even teach computer science," said Ben, 10, before he and Matthias began the lesson.

The leadership group was split off into pairs to present to younger students about coding as part of the Hour of Code for Computer Science Education Week, a nationwide learning event taking place through Friday.

The fifth-graders played a video to students featuring famous computer programmers, software engineers and musicians speaking about the importance of coding.

According to the nonprofit http://www.code.org, computer science students and professionals lack diversity, with more white males than any other demographic taking part.

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Exposing all students to computer science can help shrink that gap in diversity and prepare them for future careers in the expanding field, which is increasingly part of more industries.

"We are going to show you a video about computer science and how it can change the world," Ben said.

The boys said that with many new jobs in the computer science field, knowledge of coding is important.

The technology isn't difficult to learn, they said.

"As you get used to it, it gets easier," Ben said. "You don't have to be a genius to do it."

The duo demonstrated for second-graders how to get to http://www.code.org and select a coding puzzle to play.

Students were tasked with selecting buttons that read "walk" and "jump" to maneuver a character closer to a piece of candy.

The puzzle represented a very basic version of computer coding.

"Coding is really problem solving so it's great skills for them to practice," said Kristi Lear, technology integration specialist for Strawberry Park Elementary. "It's higher-level thinking, and our world is so full of technology."

Lear said that it's the first year the school has participated in the Hour of Code, which draws in millions of student participants annually, challenging them to code for one hour.

Last year, 15 million students participated in the Hour of Code during Computer Science Education Week, according to the program's website. Throughout the year, the number climbed to 50 million participants.

The Hour of Code has garnered support across the country, including from President Barack Obama, who recorded a video address to kick off this year’s event.

"We have almost the whole school participating this year," Lear said.

Ben and Matthias made their way around the classroom Monday afternoon, answering questions from the students while each wore shirts reading "Keep Calm and Code On."

"The class is doing really good so far," Ben said. "They all seem to be on the same level."

Ben said the activity was meant for beginners and didn't include the typing of commands that more advance coding incorporates.

"The real code is more typing," Ben said. "This is just for beginners."

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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