Community

Students learning the code

Staff report


Above: These boys had a great time during the “Hour of Code” event in December. Right: Community volunteers also learned about code with the kids. 
Photos courtesy of the school Above: These boys had a great time during the “Hour of Code” event in December. Right: Community volunteers also learned about code with the kids. Photos courtesy of the school There were a lot of excited students building houses, shearing sheep, getting rid of scrap metal during the week of December 7-13. How were they doing all of this in one week? By writing code! Local students participated in a nationwide initiative by Computer Science Education Week (csedweek.org) and Code.org (code.org) called the “Hour of Code.”

The initiative has gone global and its goal is to introduce millions of students to one hour of computer science and computer programming. Students and teachers commit to one hour within the week, to learning how to write code through specialized tutorials featuring Minecraft, Star Wars, Frozen, Angry Birds, and many more.

Many Sawtooth Mountain Elementary School students finished the introductory tutorials and moved on to more difficult coding challenges. Younger students used ScratchJr where they created stories using drag and drop coding skills.

Sawtooth Elementary Media/Tech Specialist Shelby Anderson explained, “These tutorials were not ‘just’ games. They teach ‘computational thinking’ - problem-solving by breaking a problem into smaller more manageable pieces. It enables the user to become a creative producer of technology and not just a consumer.

“The purpose was to show that anybody can write code!” said Anderson.

Mimi Gentz, a Grand Marais resident, visited the first and fifth grades to tell of her career with Microsoft. She has worked for Microsoft since graduating from college in computer science and technical writing. With her degree and an internet connection, she is able to work here in Grand Marais— or anywhere else in the world she chooses.


Left: Mimi Gentz of Grand Marais talked to students in first and fifth grades about her career in the computer field. She also watched students put their computer skills to work, like these first graders. Middle: Learning to write code is all engrossing. Right: This fifth-grade girl goes through a special tutorial about coding, based on the very popular game Minecraft. Left: Mimi Gentz of Grand Marais talked to students in first and fifth grades about her career in the computer field. She also watched students put their computer skills to work, like these first graders. Middle: Learning to write code is all engrossing. Right: This fifth-grade girl goes through a special tutorial about coding, based on the very popular game Minecraft. “First and fifth graders loved showing their skills - and getting some help on problems where they were stuck,” said Anderson.

Sawtooth students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade and many classes throughout Cook County Middle and High Schools gave coding a try and the consensus was that they want to do more. Anderson said students plan on returning to the code.org web site to continue coding on their own. One volunteer who stopped by was so intrigued that she wrote the address down to continue it at home.

Give it a try yourself at https://studio.code.org/!

Some Hour of Code facts -- Did you know that:

Minnesota currently has 13,552 open computing jobs (2.8 times the average demand rate in Minnesota).

67 percent of all new jobs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) are in computing.

Nine in 10 parents want their children to learn computer science.

Only 1 in 4 schools teach computer programming.

8 percent of STEM graduates are in Computer Science.

Minnesota had only 669 computer science graduates in 2013; only 12 percent were female.

The average salary for a computing occupation in Minnesota is $84,705 (higher than the state average $48,310).


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