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Worldwide computer programming challenge inspires OCSD students

Students at Minetto Elementary School participate in the 2017 Hour of Code, a worldwide initiative designed to improve accessibility and opportunities in computer science. “We want our children to be ready to make the world a better place and to do that, they need to be able to look at and access the technologies that are so important and all around us,” said Kimberly LeRoy of Minetto, pictured right.Students from all levels of the Oswego City School District recently took part in an event billed as the “largest learning event in history” with hundreds of Buccaneers joining millions of their peers around the globe to practice the skills used in creating the technology shaping our world. 

Hour of Code, an international education movement with the goal of increasing the accessibility of computer science opportunities in schools, challenges students to spend at least one hour each year in December writing and studying programming code. 

“Coding is going to be everything in the future,” said Oswego High School technology teacher Chris Wood. “We’d be doing our students a disservice if we didn’t get them some experience with these tools.” 
 
Hour of Code runs through Dec. 10 although activities are available year-round. The curriculum is designed to give students an introduction to the language of coding and like any foreign language, fluency takes time and practice. 

OHS Sophomore Zachary Scoville said he dabbles in coding outside of classes and his curiosity was piqued by the chance to take a look inside the inner workings of devices and technology we take for granted. 

“Things look so simple but they’re really not and there’s so much work that goes into creating something,” Scoville said. 

Students can choose from dozens of options of varying skill provided by the Hour of Code website, geared towards both newcomers and experienced coders. Students start off by practice simple programming routines like drawing a square by inputting the length and angle degree, or displaying text on a window.
 
Incorporating well-known icons of popular culture and media, such as the game Minecraft and character from Disney’s “Frozen” helps make the material easier to grasp for growing minds.
 
Minetto Elementary School has been participating in Hour of Code for four years and Library Media Specialist Kim LeRoy says each year, more and younger children are flocking to programming and coding.
 
“Computers may run our world these days, but they’re just machines and won’t do anything without us telling them to,” LeRoy explained to a fresh group of fourth grade students gathered in the Minetto library.
 
LeRoy says establishing a connection between the creative thinking required for coding and its real world applications opens up limitless pathways of opportunities for students.
 
“We want our children to be ready to make the world a better place and to do that, they need to be able to look at and access the technologies that are so important and all around us,” LeRoy said.
 
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