Eastside students showcase coding skills

Hilary Andrews, staff photoAn Eastside Elementary student, left, walks Greenbrier superintendent Scott Spainhour through the basics of coding during the school’s annual Hour of Code event on Tuesday. The computer science skills are taught through simple game-like applications. 

Students at Eastside Elementary in Greenbrier showed off their computer knowledge during a Hour of Code event on Tuesday. 

Hour of Code is a global movement, which began as a way to introduce computer science to those who weren’t accustomed to it and “demystify” coding for others to show that anybody can learn the basics, according to the Hour of Code website. 

The grassroots campaign is taught in more than 45 languages and to date, 100 million students have participated in the event, which is usually held during Computer Science Education Week, this year Dec. 9-15. 

The computer science initiative is one Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has been pushing for years. 

Eastside Elementary’s media specialist Sara Havens said Greenbrier has been equipping district media specialists for a few years now through sending them to computer science trainings and other professional development opportunities. 

“We bring it back and we’re able to go over it with our students,” she said. 

Eastside became aware of the Hour of Code three years ago and since, have held one at the school annually. 

“The Hour of Code is a global movement in Computer Science Education presented by Code.org reaching tens of millions of students in 180 (plus) countries through a one-hour introduction to computer science and computer programming,” Haven said. “As we all know, we live in a world surrounded by technology. We also know that whatever field our students choose to go into as adults, their ability to succeed will increasingly depend on understanding how technology works, but only a small fraction of all students and adults actually know how technology works.”

She said coding includes all grades. 

“It’s great that our kids at this level are able to begin in kindergarten, learning how,” Haven said. “It’s simply just writing the programs for all the apps and the video games that they already play. That’s all it is.”

“They have learned just through simple, moving blocks, putting blocks together in a game form, is what it looks like.”

She said other advanced students have started working on new coding activities that require them to write the script. 

“To write the words, not just pull over a picture or a box,” Haven said. “It’s a little more complex but they’re getting it.”

The media specialist said kids are already so connected with technology, learning to code is spot on. 

“They’re better at it than I am,” Haven said. “They whiz through it with no trouble at all. I think it’s just the technology … it’s just something that they love to do. They’re already interested in it. It’s just going to be here. It’s not something that’s going to go away.

“I think we might as well embrace it and use it to our advantage … teach them the good in it. It’s going to be where the jobs are.”

She said one of her favorite aspects to teaching coding is watching students’s faces.

“They get so excited when they solve puzzles,” Haven said.

This year, parents, community members like mayor Sammy Hartwick, administrators including superintendent Scott Spainhour and other supporters showed up to learn from the students.

“Our students enjoyed sharing their excitement and interest in computer programming with everyone,” Havens said. “Our students here at Eastside are on their way to changing the future with an Hour of Code.

“By participating in this Hour of Code, we are making a statement that Eastside is ready to teach these foundational 21st-century skills.” 

Staff writer Hilary Andrews can be reached at handrews@thecabin.net.

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