This week millions of students and teachers alike logged into the Hour of Code website and completed several coding tutorials. The concept behind that was that by encouraging participation in just one hour of coding we not only demystify what this scary “coding” thing is but also teach that virtually anyone can do it. Burlington Public Schools decided to join in on the movement and encourage participation in ‘The Largest Education Event in History” during Computer Science Week from December 8th through December 14th. The link to the BHS smore for Hour of Code can be found here. Students and teachers were encouraged to tweet out images of themselves or their classes taking part in the coding tutorials this week and all of those tweets can be found through the #hourofcode twitter hashtag
The Hour of Code tutorials that I participated in were Course 4: Stage 1: Tangrams, Stage 2: Maze and Bee, Stage 3: Artist, Stage 7: Play Lab: Variables and Flappy Code. I started out with Flappy Code because I’ve played the game before and thought it would be fun to work on the mechanics of it and after I had finished I wanted to challenge myself more so I chose different parts of the Stage 4 exercises. I used my Mac to complete each of the tutorials because I had heard that there were some restrictions on the iPad and I wanted to have as many options as possible.
I found some of the final levels of each stage in Course 4 to be challenging. I enjoyed how the games I was playing and creating seemed childish but when you began to get into the mechanics of how even the simplest of games function it was challenging even for me. Looking at each problem I would instantly think “Oh that’s easy” and would end up being stumped on it for ten or fifteen minutes because it was making me think in a way I wasn’t used to. I found the instructions for my tutorials specifically to be very helpful. Being the kind of person who skips past instructions and tries to figure things out for myself, whenever I was stuck on a level I would go back and review the instructions and I would instantly understand.
I also got the chance to assist Mrs. Chang’s class in their participation of Hour of Code. It was really cool to watch how tentative all the students were going into the tutorials and how reluctant they were to log out at the end of the period. In fact, the bell rang and every single student had made a premeditated movement to pack up or log out. Just goes to show that the world of Computer Science isn’t that scary after all.
Having completed Hour of Code I don’t know if I would say I am more interested in exploring the field of Computer Science as much as I would say I am interested in exploring the ways that Computer Science and coding can develop me as a student and the way in which I learn. I think that being given the chance to participate in Hour of Code has allowed me to use my brain and think in ways that I never have before and that participating in this experience can be beneficial to students and teachers alike because it promotes new styles of critical thinking that can be applied in many situations aside from the field of Computer Science.
All I have to say to future participants of the Hour of Code is Challenge Yourself! Find a tutorial that is interesting to you or seems manageable to get yourself comfortable with the concept but then begin to choose ones that seem difficult or interesting or unique. The experience is what you make it. If you go in there and pick the easy ones just to get it done you wont learn anything and you probably wont enjoy yourself. If you challenge yourself, there is a sense of accomplishment upon finishing and that cheesy digital completion certificate is more rewarding than you might think!