Students Boot Up for Global ‘Hour of Code’
For the fourth consecutive year, hundreds of students in the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District joined millions around the world in learning the basics of computer coding during the "Hour of Code" campaign held in conjunction with Computer Science Education Week, Dec. 4-10.
The campaign aims to take the mystery out of computer coding and show how anyone can learn the basics, according to the website csedweek.org, where free, easy-to-follow tutorials by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft giant Bill Gates are offered for all ages.
During a Night of Code, Dec. 4, students, with their family members, were greeted at Oyster Bay High School with a chance to win one of dozens of coding-related raffle prizes before convening in the auditorium. There, Ms. Janna Ostroff, K-12 Supervisor for Science and Technology Instruction, offered welcoming remarks and shared a video she created on computer coding that featured some of the students in the district. Due to a huge outpouring of interest, students in K-3 and their family members logged onto computers in one of three computer labs that were filled to capacity while students in grade 4 and older used iPads in the auditorium.
On hand to assist them were Technology Department educators Mr. Keith Harrison and Ms. Regina D’Orio, Oyster Bay High School computer students, and special guests of the evening, KidOYO, an affiliate of codeLI.org, that produces educational platforms for K-12 classrooms to promote computer science education. KidOYO also collaborates with Stony Brook University on computer science education opportunities for all ages and will be partnering with the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District to enrich computer coding lessons for 5-12 grade students.
Throughout the evening, many of the elementary students explored Minecraft, a fun, adventure program that uses “blocks” to teach coding. The program is one of dozens of age-appropriate coding activities that can be accessed on hourofcode.com. Older students worked on more challenging “blocking” programs offered through KidOYO.
At the end of the coding session, students went home with prizes, such as Ozobots coding robots, Bloxels to build your own video game, the Fisher Price Code-a-pillar, and Thinkfun coding, brainteaser and electric current logic games that were generously provided by the elementary and high school PTAs, the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Teachers Association (OBENTA) and the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Administrators Association (OBENAA).
Coding continued when dozens of Oyster Bay High School students met in the computer labs to boot up for an hour after school. Students won raffle prizes of Amazon gift cards and hats, and ate pizza while exploring the KidOYO platforms.
“Research shows that after just one hour of code more students reported that they computer science,” according to computer science and technology teacher Suprapbha Malhar-Jain, who helped prepare the Night of Code and assisted with the high school’s Hour of Code. She also cited that more students feel they are able to learn computer science, and more students feel they are better at computer science than their peers. What’s more, students are being exposed to one of the fastest growing and highest paying fields of the future.
“Much of coding is intuitive,” Ms. Ostroff explained. “Our goal is that our students are not only consumers of technology, but will be able to understand, create and make informed decisions about technology.”
To keep students engaged in coding, the district currently offers computer science courses for 9-12 grade students in Creating a Droid, Interactive 3D Game Design, 2D Gaming – Python Programming, and Video Game Design/Programing. For grades 10-12, students can take AP Computer Science A/Principals, CISCO Certified Entry Networking Technician 1 and CISCO Certified Entry Networking Technician 2. A college level engineering course is also offered through Stony Brook University.
Freshman Miriam Coor, who is currently enrolled in Interactive 3D Game Design at Oyster Bay High School and was a volunteer helper at the high school’s Hour of Code event, said, she finds coding “interesting. It’s like another language; it’s so much of the future and so important to learn.”
Senior Greg Nibert, also a student volunteer for the high school’s Hour of Code, currently takes 2D Gaming – Python Programming, a class he believes more students should explore. “Once I understood how coding works, I found it really interesting. I am a gamer at heart; it is my passion and my intended major at LIUPOST next year.”
Both agreed that the students at the Hour of Code took to the KidOYO programs seamlessly and that many have had experience with coding programs.
“I’ve used programs similar to this but this was a good one to learn from,” said freshman William Capone who was working on the KidOYO Maze program with the assistance of student volunteer Greg Jones, also a freshman, who said, “This particular program is great for teaching the basics.”
Sophomore Julia Cutajar also enjoyed the program, adding, “In today’s day and age, we all should know how to code.”
Ms. Ostroff thanked the participants, the Board of Education and Central Administration, teachers, the student volunteers, the technology support staff and the custodial staff for their support in making the coding events a success.
Students and their families fill our raffles for a chance to win a computer coding prize at the Night of Code at Oyster Bay High School, Dec. 4.
From left, technology teacher Ms. Regina D’Orio; K-12 Supervisor for Science and Technology Instruction Ms. Janna Ostroff, and technology teacher Mr. Keith Harrison, right, led the night with student volunteers from the district’s computer science classes.
Older students worked on iPads in the auditorum.
Younger students, above and below, were assisted by family members and student volunteers.
OBHS students, above and below, enjoy using KidOYO programs at the Hour of Code.