Education

An hour of computer skills goes a long way

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Second- and third-graders at Arapahoe Ridge Elementary School know the code, the technology code that is. The students recently participated in the nationwide Hour of Code event during annual Computer Science Education Week, a celebration geared to encourage interest in technology and show that anyone can learn basic computer skills.

Partnering with the Statewide Internet Portal Authority, SIPA, a self-funded government organization serving as the oversight body of the Colorado.gov portal, Arapahoe Ridge hosted their first Hour of Code event on Dec. 12. Students spent one hour learning computer science skills during their math classes with SIPA volunteers helping them along the way.

John Conley, SIPA executive director, said it’s important to engage young students in technology and the Hour of Code event was a great opportunity not only to teach students more technology skills, but also a time for SIPA employees to give back to the community.

“We really wanted to get kids excited about math, science and technology and being able to do that through the Hour of Code was really great and the kids really enjoyed it too,” he said. “We were able to expose the kids to computer programming by using the popular game Angry Birds, which worked out great.”

Through the Angry Bids game, students learned basic concepts of computer science with drag and drop programming. Conley said students had to complete a number of levels before their program was finished. He said seeing the students faces light up after a level was complete was the best part.

“There was one second-grader who made it through all 20 levels and that was fun to see,” he said. “But the most encouraging thing out of it was that he went and helped another classmate who was not progressing at the same pace.”

Bianca Porter, Arapahoe Ridge assistant principal, is a big advocate for technology in the school and said with the pace of technology changing so rapidly, the Hour of Code event was a great way to incorporate computer skills into the school, while encouraging students to engage in technology.

“We are always looking for ways to motivate our students and empower them and the Hour of Code did that,” she said. “Students were empowered by the fact that they had to complete the code and for some, it was an opportunity for them to discover their interest in technology.”

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