MANTI – Dec. 6 is the kick-off date for Computer Science Education Week in South Sanpete Schools.
All schools from elementary to high school will hold an “Hour of Code,” where students will have the opportunity to use computer science to code a game or other project.
The Hour of Code, organized by the nonprofit Code.org and over 100 others, is a global movement that believes the students of today are ready to learn critical skills for 21st-century success.
“The Hour of Code is designed to demystify code and show that computer science is not rocket science—anybody can learn the basics,” said Hadi Partovi, founder and CEO of Code.org. “Over 100 million students worldwide have tried an Hour of Code. The demand for relevant 21st-century computer science education crosses all borders and knows no boundaries.”
That’s why every first through 12th grader in the South Sanpete School District is joining in on the largest learning event in history: The Hour of Code, during Computer Science Education Week.
Each school is choosing how to involve their students in coding this week and throughout the month of December. Gunnison Valley Elementary, Manti Elementary, and Ephraim Elementary have chosen to give their students the opportunity to use Code.org during their computer science classes.
Emily Jensen, computer science specialist at Gunnison Valley Elementary School, said, “We have done a few activities already in code.org, and it’s been fun to see some of these kids catch on so quickly. We’ve been talking about how important computers are in our lives. No matter what future occupation students choose, their chances for employment and success will improve greatly with a background in computers. We are working hard to get a basic introduction in elementary, so students can more easily progress at the secondary and collegiate levels.”
Julia Bratton, computer science specialist at Manti Elementary School, said that students will be doing a variety of activities on Code.org according to their grade levels. The primary students will be working on coding that focuses on directionality and conditionals. The upper-grade students will be focusing on more advanced coding (conditionals, loops, etc.). Every student will receive a sticker, bracelet, or button. They will also be raffling off Code.org t-shirts.
Lauren Gillett, who teaches computer science at Ephraim Elementary School, said the students at her school will be able to create their own Flappy Bird game. Each student is going to get a prize after they have completed their Hour of Code class.
Gunnison Valley Middle School and Ephraim Middle School will hold their Hour of Code on Dec. 16. Each student sixth to eighth grade will be involved in coding during their math class at EMS. Students at GVMS will do their coding in their science classes. Each student that completes the activity will be entered into a drawing for some fun computer science swag such as hats, water bottles, and shirts.
GVHS is using their advisory period over the three weeks of school during December for their Hour of Code. Each student may select to complete a “dance party” coding activity or a Star Wars activity. Swag will be given randomly to students who finish the activities.
“The vision of the South Sanpete School district is: ‘Preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities,’” said Superintendent Ralph Squire. “This includes skills in technology and computer science.”
South Sanpete School District received a computer science grant worth $1 million. Over the next four years, the district will receive $250,000 a year to integrate and highlight computer science.
The grant is possible thanks to Mark Anderson, who started the process, and to Jodi Anderson, who finished it. Russell Olsen has been hired to oversee the grant. Working with Jodi Anderson, instructional technology specialist in the district, the pair has worked with a contact person at each school.
“We thank them,” said Squire.
The district will use this year’s grant amount to purchase tools for hands-on computer science learning such as Spheros, Ozobots, and Bee-Bots. The district has hired a person in each elementary school to support and introduce new technology and computer science curriculum and skills. The middle and high schools will be highlighting the CTE computer courses and offering more technological opportunities for students.
Each year for the next four years, 50 teachers can complete a computer science course, which includes writing two lesson plans that will be added to the district pool of CS lesson plans. These teachers will receive a stipend for their work.
Squire said that the district is preparing students for jobs that might not have even been created yet. They want their students to have access to coding technological advances and computer skills that will take them into the 21st century and help them to be as prepared as any student in the world to succeed and to let the sky be the limit.