Eighth-graders at Fonville Middle School joined the districtwide coding challenge for the Hour of Code with a tutorial in programming. This is the second year that Fonville students have participated in the international initiative designed to generate awareness about computer programming.
Students from Vania Willms’ computer class began writing their first Java lines of script by using a drag and drop method that arranges commands of code already written to successfully solve a puzzle or problem. Through the exercise, students develop their computational thinking skills by choosing the appropriate command to make the puzzle move in the right direction at the right time.
“They are very excited whenever they can see that they can create something,” said Willms, a technology applications and robotics teacher. “They are capable of making something that is going, maybe, to their phones later that they can play with. When they can create games or work with a website, they really engage with the lesson.”
The students are helped by fellow classmates who have completed the computer applications course. Brianna Zabawa is a student coach who guides the first-time students through their tutorials. “It’s games we’ve played before, but you’re behind it,” said Brianna. “Like you are actually making the game yourself.”
Through their lessons in coding, students learn to solve problems, to communicate with their work groups, and to collaborate. Learning about coding in middle school teaches students the critical skills they will need for 21st century success. It is vital that they are not only expert users of technology, but are also able to create products, to be innovators, and maybe to create the next Facebook.