Hour of Code adds verve to technology curriculum

Dec 15, 2021
Students, Carson L. and Ella G., Ascension Catholic School in Melbourne learn basic programming and more during Hour of Code, a national event to promote STEM studies. (PAM STIMPSON | FC)

ORLANDO | The Hour of Code is a worldwide initiative sponsored by Code.org that started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, in an effort to show that anybody can learn basic coding, and to stimulate participation in the field of computer science. Many Catholic schools in the diocese celebrate National Computer Science Week and Hour of Code every year, from Dec. 6-10.

Students in Catholic schools across central Florida start coding from a very young age. From Pre-K to eighth grade, students explore ways coding, sequencing, and logical problem-solving impact our lives.

Resurrection Catholic School, Lakeland kicked off the week with a Maker Monday event. Family members were invited to join their child in the STREAM Lab to complete art, technology, math, and cooking activities by following algorithms. Students learned about Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer and explored binary code.

In Pre-K, students coded a path for the wisemen to find Baby Jesus. Kindergarten students built and programmed robots, fourth graders used block coding to create scenery for stories in ELA class, and Algebra students programmed formulas into a spreadsheet to create Advent wreaths.

As a STREAM certified school, Resurrection exposes students to these types of activities regularly throughout the curriculum. “Coding is the future for our students,” said Principal Deborah Schwope. “It is critical that they have the opportunity to practice 21st century skills.”

At St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School in St. Cloud, students also enjoyed a fun-filled Computer Science week. The main goal of Stacey Miller, head of the Computer Science program, is to make Computer Science education fun and hands on by developing digital 3-D designs, building and programming robots, and incorporating audio manipulation.

“It is important for students to know Computer Science means a lot of things,” he said. “Programmers who develop video games all the way, to companies developing AI to automagically navigate roads on their own… The people in these fields started because of a passion for Computer Science. Our goal as educators is to foster that desire to build, program, animate, and design so that when students enroll in college, their desire has turned into a full-blown passion,” Miller said.

At Ascension Catholic School in Melbourne, technology teacher Laura Davis’s students completed the Hour of Code using a variety of different activities in the newly renovated computer lab.

Davis explained students in younger grades begin building the concepts of computer programming by studying sequencing and loops and identifying patterns in their code. In upper elementary, students build their own computer games using the skills they have previously learned. While in middle school, students are introduced to Python and other coding languages while solving challenges.

To research a Catholic school near you, please visit: https://www.orlandodiocese.org/ministries-offices/schools/find-a-school/

By Maria Del Amo and Dawn Melcher, Special to the Florida Catholic, December 15, 2021