By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor
Every hour of the school day this week, Huron High School’s media center was filled with students learning how to make a computer actually work.
And while teens are known to be tech-savvy, many have yet to learn how to code.
“They might know how to use a certain application on their phone, or they might know how to use an application on their computer,” said Huron’s media specialist Jennifer Colby.
But Colby said most students this week said they’d never learned how to program a computer, an activity some thought would geeky or boring before they actually tried it.
“Students need to understand that a computer needs to be told what to do,” she said. “When a computer comes out of the box, it only works because a human being has given it instructions.”
This introduction to computer programming was held in conjunction with Hour of Code, a worldwide effort to get more students comfortable with coding.
Many K-12 teachers throughout the district offered programming tutorials this week. Huron offered it school-wide, with students working in pairs to complete the online coding tutorials, with volunteers assisting as needed.
Junior Jessica Hollenshead said she’d never even considered programming until that day in the media center.
Laura Hanselman said that although one of her best friends is a member of the school’s computer club and is into coding, she’d never tried it herself.
“So it was cool to experience it, and now I can talk to him about it,” she said.
Colby said it makes sense for every student to learn to program.
“Everybody is starting to understand that every career in the future will have some component of computer programming, whether you’re a doctor or a teacher or a lawyer or whatever you decide to do,” said Colby. “Kids say, `I’m going to be a sportscaster. I don’t need to know how to work the computers.’ I say, `Will you be interacting with computers when you’re entering your text in, or figuring out what you’re going to say on the air?’ In every job, you’re interacting with a computer. And more and more, we just need to understand how they work.”
Huron math teacher Andra Warsinke agrees that every job in the future, especially those that are math-related, will require some knowledge of coding.
“It opens doors for those who can code,” said Warsinke. “And I want the doors to open for my students.”
Colby said that all week, it’s been exciting to see students grasp the material.
“Every once in a while I’ll hear a, `Woo!’ or a `Wow!’ or a `That’s cool!’ They’ll clap. It helps them understand that they’re in control of the computer.”
Students used the following free tutorials during Hour of Code:
And here is a video technology and engineering teacher Bill Van Loo of A2 STEAM posted on youtube: