PIQUA — Digital proficiency was the true name of the game for 65 participating fourth, fifth, and sixth graders during Piqua Central Intermediate’s annual “Hour of Code” event on Thursday afternoon.
This marks the fourth year that Piqua Central has held the event.
Dec. 3-9 is being recognized internationally as 2018’s Computer Science Education Week, and many organizations, including Piqua Central, feature Hour of Code to coincide with the occasion.
“You can actually look at a world map to see all the schools, youth centers, and organizations holding an ‘Hour of Code’ event this week on their website,” said Piqua Central science instructor Veronica Gaier. “You can host the event any time of the year, but this is always the week we do it.”
Throughout the 60-minute session, participating students engaged in Code.org’s courses, set up as interactive games, to teach students computational thinking, problem solving, programming concepts, and digital citizenship.
“The whole idea is to moderate, initiate, and start thinking about digital awareness and proficiency,” said Gaier, who began the program at Piqua Central in 2015. “I happened to find it a few years ago, and we threw one together. That first year, we had over 100 kids, and they just loved it. It’s pretty amazing, and it’s all kid-friendly. There are partnerships with big names like Minecraft, ‘Star Wars,’ and ‘Frozen.’ They even just added The Grinch this year.”
With the current generation of elementary students engaging more regularly with digital technology than any generation prior, Gaier feels that tools like Hour of Code aren’t just useful, but also essential.
“Our kids are wired a little bit differently now,” Gaier said. “They’re more tech-oriented now, and they’re constantly handling tablets and cell phones and gaming systems. While this is a game, they’re the ones who command what the game does through coding. The program really inspires creativity and encourages thinking through trial and error. These are just life skills that our kids will need to have.”
Gaier also stressed that fourth, fifth, and sixth grade is the perfect time to introduce students to a concept like coding, given their growing tendency for critical thinking and exploration.
“The games are created for age 4-99, but at this age, they can make more rational decisions than the younger kids,” Gaier said. “I do believe this is a pivotal time, because these kids are figuring out who they are, how technology fits into their life, and how to use it purposefully.
“I would love if parents would encourage kids to use ‘Hour of Code’ at home. It’ll have kids playing, but also learning in a fun way.”
All equipment utilized during the program was provided by Piqua City Schools.
Hour of Code is a movement active in over 180 countries, with over 209,000 coding events registered in 2018.
For more information, visit www.hourofocode.com.