Story, photos and video by Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor
In celebration of Computer Science Education Week—and just because it’s a very good idea—27 of AAPS’ 32 schools this week are learning new computing skills during Hour of Code.
The Hour of Code is a 60-minute introduction to coding basics spearheaded by Code.org and Computer Science Education Week meant to demystify computer science. Students are taking part in various coding activities and meeting with technology industry professionals.
“I think it’s important that the AAPS observes and actively participates in the Hour of Code with our community partners because it helps students see people who look like them in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers,” said Tom Pachera, the district’s PLTW coordinator. “It also highlights our computer science programs for our community partners who may not have students in our schools.”
About 130 volunteers who work in technology have given up their time to tutor students this week, and in some cases lead panel discussions with the students, followed by question-answer periods. They represent about 35 companies and organizations, including many affiliated with the University of Michigan.
As he waited for his own panel discussion to begin at Bach Elementary on Monday, software engineer David Matt noted that he had attended Bach himself, and was happy to return to help students code and talk about his career.
“I do remember Ann Arbor Public Schools offering a little bit of programming when I was a kid,” he said, reflecting on learning Logo and PED in fifth grade. “But it wasn’t like this. This is really an impressive program. These kids are all engaged and all able to work at the same time instead of taking turns on one computer like when I was a kid.”
Just four AAPS schools participated when Hour of Code began in 2013, and since then, participation has grown each year.