Sowing the seeds of code
For one week, all of the schools in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District participated in Hour of Code to introduce students to programming and allow them to gain a better understanding of computers.
Hour of Code is a worldwide movement to spread awareness of the idea that anyone can code.
During the week of Dec. 4, students were introduced to games and activities that taught basic-level coding in a user-friendly way.
"Traditionally, computer programming and software design has been the domain of eggheads and nerds. People have an aversion to it because they think you have to be really good at math or you have to be really good at this (or that)," said Charles Hyman, a Wilsonville High School computer science teacher. "The Hour of Code is designed to specifically show that you just have to be methodical in how you solve a problem."
At WHS, nearly 40 students crowded the library to participate in Hour of Code games and activities during lunch throughout the week, and a handful of students in Hyman's AP computer science class volunteered to assist.
Junior Hannah Hogan said she had fun being a mentor, and compared Hour of Code with Sudoku, a logic-based numerical puzzle. She described the games as a set of objectives, where people receive a set of tools and have to use computer commands to get to that objective.
"The reason I'm doing it is because it's kind of like the jobs of tomorrow. Our world is very technology-based and I feel like it's going to be good for any kind of job you're going to do in the future," Hogan said. "It's also just a good life skill to have."
Principal Dan Schumaker and Hyman agree.
"We live in an age where code is often the underpinnings of a lot of parts of our lives and we really don't pay attention to it," Schumaker said. "We have to be able to think in logical cause and effect ways; we have to be able to sort of decode things."
He added that school targets different subject areas, which causes students to exercise different parts of their brains.
"Coding and math both work on a part of the brain that's really necessary that we exercise," said Schumaker, adding that people nowadays tend to be "end-users," meaning people use a product, but don't know how or why it works.
With Hour of Code going on for the last few years, it has made it easy for even primary students to get a taste of the problem-solving coding activities.
"It's just now starting to fill in at the beginning of the elementary level — a lot of these students missed out on that," Hyman said. "They went to primary school before it had a lot of computers in the rooms."
And this is something Hogan wishes she had the opportunity to experience at a younger age.
"For me, the things that we are learning at first seem kind of simple and I think it's awesome that younger kids are getting introduced to that early on," Hogan said. "They can get deeper and deeper into the coding experience as they go through high school...it's good to start off early and get that kind of experience."
Because once people do an Hour of Code, Hogan said, they will just want to keep going.