Young Student Programmers Celebrate “Hour of Code” Campaign

“Everyone in this country should learn how to program a computer…because it teaches you how to think.”  –Steve Jobs

Built into the Lower School Coding curriculum at Moorestown Friends is a celebration of the global Hour of Code campaign (December 7-13) to encourage children to code for the first time. This program, by Code.org, features a number of skill-building activities featuring Minecraft, Star Wars, and Frozen characters, but is far from Lower Schoolers’ first exposure to writing programs, thinking sequentially, and interacting with technology in creative ways. If anything, it is a week-long celebration to reinforce and build on the foundation that has already been set in place in the inaugural year of the unique Coding program that sees 3-10 year olds learn to navigate, draw, and manipulate virtual environments with code every week of the school year.

On December 8, first graders also welcomed a guest speaker into their Coding class — parent Ryan Kennedy, Principal Architect at Kickdrum Technology Group.

Ryan provided some examples of projects he works on professionally and how code relates to the work that he and his co-workers produce. As he presented a variety of apps, students were able to quickly identify coding terminology used such as “debugging” and “loops.”

He also brought a variety of props which included buttons and sensors, all of which incorporate code in some way.

Coding teacher Liz Kahn queried the students, “And what language do these use?”

“Code!” the students responded.

After he explained the coding involved in the four sensors and buttons, students then drafted observational drawings in small groups.

The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics. The grassroots campaign goal is for tens of millions of students to try an Hour of Code during December 7-13, in celebration of Computer Science Education Week.

A Year of Code at Moorestown Friends

Realizing the importance of code in the 21st century, Moorestown Friends School unveiled a Coding program for all Lower School students (Preschool – Grade 4) in 2015-16. Kahn was hired as the full-time Coding Teacher. She has a master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in Psychology from Temple University.

All Lower School students meet with Ms. Kahn for class on two days of a six-day cycle to dive deeper into these concepts using robots, creating original drawings with code, and even programming holiday lights in different patterns to understand repeat loops and pattern matching. Teamwork and collaboration skills are constantly being developed. Programmable robots with names like “Beebot,” “Dash,” and “Dot” are often used for lessons and problem solving. In addition, students in Kindergarten through Grade 4 meet in the Computer Lab with Computers Teacher Terry Harlan to develop their technology skills.