Looking Back on Computer Science Ed Week

01/22/19 10:18:pm
| Category: News

Before the first half of the year zoomed to a close, Mirman students made time to celebrate coding and computer science during Computer Science Education Week/Hour of Code. All week long from December 3 through 9, students in both Lower and Upper School worked both in and outside of technology-related class periods to practice concepts in coding, computational thinking, and more.

“This year, we spent a lot of time exploring, celebrating, and giving voice to children who are doing amazing things in the classroom with computer science. We also looked at teachers and faculty who were already engaging in computational thinking, and put some of those projects together in ways that we could share with community,” said Amy Heppe, Lower School Technology Integrationist and Chair of the Educational Technology department at Mirman.

In Upper School, students primarily continued to engage with the subject matter through electives (like Let’s Build A Computer) and LEAP sessions in order to extend their learning and focus on their passion projects, in addition to inviting special speakers to engage with classes. In the Lower School, lessons devoted to coding concepts and programming lessons were spiced up by adding extra activities to extend learning. Ms. Heppe gave the example of the Room 5 classes; the students in those classes participated in “Breakout” games, an online escape room where they had to use computational thinking and computer science ideas to escape a deteriorating space station before it was too late.

“At the core, computer science is just learning how to problem solve — how to use logic to get through things,” said Heppe, who added that, often times, students who have had little exposure to computer science may find it daunting at first blush and then engaging thereafter once the intimidation factor is removed. “A lot of times, we’re talking about pattern recognition; identifying a problem and breaking it in to parts. It’s really important for me to demystify what is happening and to find a way for each student to engage and connect to it.”

Some of these nontraditional ways of connecting with computer science were explored during an all-school assembly, with Upper Schoolers presenting their mastery of programming alongside large-scale art pieces from Kindergarteners working on the concepts of pattern recognition and algorithms. Second grade held a dance party where they coded their own cartoon avatars to dance in different ways. Budding scientists in other classes used the concept of storytelling through code to explore fungi, bacteria, and parasites. Cross-division connections were bolstered as well, pairing Upper School Python classes with Room 5 students, mentoring them in different projects meant to build up their understanding of hardware and software.

Heppe summed up by saying that these skills are, ultimately, life skills for every learner. “This is real-world problem solving that we all engage in every day,” she said.

For more information on Computer Science Week and the Hour of Code Initiative, including games and lessons you can do with your learners at home, click here.