GCHS teacher, students attend national program for computer codi - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

GCHS teacher, students attend national program for computer coding

(Source: Paul Schaumburg, Graves Co. schools) (Source: Paul Schaumburg, Graves Co. schools)

In celebration of Computer Science Education Week, a one-hour introduction to computer science will be held at Graves County High School now through December 13.

The Hour of Code is designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics.

According to the Hour of Code website:

“Every student should have the opportunity to learn computer science. It helps nurture problem-solving skills, logic and creativity. By starting early, students will have a foundation for success in any 21st-century career path…An unprecedented coalition of partners have come together to support the Hour of Code, too — including Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the College Board.”

“The Hour of Code web site has about 50 guided tutorials on-line to introduce students to coding concepts through a game-like interface,” said Graves County High School computer science teacher Jim Whitaker. “My students have been preparing to teach this material to their peers. They give an introduction to the session and then assist with any struggles the students have before presenting a conclusion to promote the classes we have here. We have three specific coding classes now and we have some other computer science classes that will be offered next year. We want them to understand that anybody can do this. It is not really hard.”

According to Wade Rudolph, every student in the school will be involved.

He said they will take the fourth period class out of the day Monday through Thursday of this week and teach them how to do simple coding.

"There are different languages of coding," Rudolph said. "Each has a different way of coding. In its most general sense, coding is telling the computer to take a certain action. You program one variable for that action. You put them all together and you make a game or a program, anything you want.”

“Coding is a new word for programming that is a little less intimidating,” Whitaker said. “Anything on a computer must have something programmed to act. What we’re teaching is a basic glimpse behind a computer that allows it to work. So, when you hit the right arrow key, what’s the code behind that to make it work? In the actual classes, we get more in-depth on how to make these programs or applications work.

Whitaker said this is the third year they have planned to do this.

“The first year, we got snowed out and only a handful of classes participated then," he said. "Last year, it was more widespread. It was very positive. We got a lot of good feedback. Exposure to it demystifies it. It’s not rocket science, but there is a science element to it. Anyone can do it, if you’re not too scared to try.”

Mason Gargus is a student who is teaching other students.

“I think most people think that coding computers is something only ‘smart’ or ‘nerdy’ people do, but literally anyone in the entire world can do it, it’s extremely simple,” said Gargus. “Even driving a car is coding in a sense. We tell our bodies what to do to turn the car or stop it. That’s what we’re doing when we code a computer program.”

“Every computer lab in the building is being utilized some time during the week,” Whitaker explained. “We will be saturating our bandwidth. We’ve had hardware upgrades and that will help. This takes place during fourth period, which includes the lunches, so it runs about two hours, from 11:20 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Students are teaching this to other students, which might be somewhat unique to our school.”

Asked midday Monday whether he is good with computers, junior Carlos Quemada hesitated and said with a smile, “Sometimes, a little bit, yeah!”

He began working on coding and said, “This is Mindcraft and I’m commanding the person to do stuff. I’m trying to make a wall and I’m struggling. I don’t know what to do. It’s not too bad. I’ll get some help.”  

“Pretty much, I am a computer person, but when I first heard about this project I had no clue what it would be like,” said junior James Lindsey. “I’ve really made some progress. It kind of plays out once you get on and look at it. It kind of came on pretty easy for me at first. I just started looking to see what it was saying and then using these things to move and destroy the trees on the program. I get kind of caught up a little because I’m thinking too much, but I can see how it’s working and I’m really getting the hang of it.”

“I’m usually not a computer person,” said junior Drew Boyd, as he worked on the program midday Monday. “I didn’t think I’d be able to do it when I came into the library today, but I’ve only been at it a minute or two and I already get it. You have to create a strategy to light up the blue tiles and use this button to get it correct. I’m getting it right so far and that surprised me. I also really do like it.”

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