Students collaborate in the name of coding
For today’s students, computers have always been a part of their daily lives. But that did not hamper the enthusiasm for the Hour of Code – a day dedicated to the study of computer science. Mifflin Park Elementary piloted the international program last year. This year, Brecknock and Cumru Elementary joined in, with every student in grades K-4 participating in the event. The concept of coding was introduced through a star-studded video that also featured some of the tech industry’s most high profile leaders. The act of coding was carried out in a video-game-like program that gave students the opportunity to problem-solve by programming the actions of a character. While the coding curriculum was consistent, each school had their own take on the event, which included collaborations across grade levels. At Brecknock, fourth-grade students took on a teaching role helping younger students navigate the program and assisting teachers in resetting work stations as students cycled through the activities. At Mifflin Park, students worked in pairs to navigate through the challenging levels of the program. And at Cumru, Governor Mifflin High School senior Drew Thuss returned to his elementary alma mater to show students a custom computer he built. Thuss, who plans to major in cyber security in college, gave students a hands-on demonstration of the computer and let them try out some of the programs. Coding is catching on across campus. Cumru students visited the pre-K classroom to help the 4-year-olds try the Hour of Code. Mifflin Park is continuing to run its after-school computer science clubs. And Governor Mifflin Middle School launched an after-school coding program this month. Also this month, the High School welcomed guest speaker Capt. Paul Tortora, former U.S. Naval Intelligence Officer and current Director of the Center for Cyber Security Studies at the U.S. Naval Academy. Capt. Tortora was visiting the area as part of the World Affairs Council of Greater Reading’s Luncheon Lecture series. During his presentation to students, he said that while the field of cyber security is rapidly growing, most new midshipmen at the Naval Academy have no previous experience with basic coding. Coding is now part of the required curriculum for all students at the academy.