On Monday, OKAN had the opportunity to visit the PEAK Afterschool Program at Centennial Mid High School in Oklahoma City to try Hour of Code with several middle and high school students. Each student tried the CodeMonkey activity from Hour of Code. This activity consists of multiple challenges where the participant is required to “program” the monkey to collect bananas. Each challenge adds a new task, such as turning or using a new function. Most students were brand new to computer programming, but they were eager to learn, even when the challenges became complicated. Coding is not just knowing about computers, it requires careful syntax and attention to detail. If your computer program has an error, a word may be spelled wrong. Furthermore, CodeMonkey incorporated measuring distances, and turning at 30, 45, and 90 degree angles. Coding can turn practicing math and English concepts into a productive activity. My favorite benefit of these activities is the collaboration between students to solve the challenges. These activities can be done individually, and Code.org recommends asking a friend for help if you are stuck, before asking the teacher. Even though the Centennial students were seeing computer programming for the first time, they were quick to try something new and patient if a challenge was tough.
Adults and kids are encouraged to try the Hour of Code activities. Even though Computer Science Education Week is over, the activities are available year-round at no cost. Anyone can visit Khan Academy and Codecademy to take full courses on coding, including web design. These courses are free for all users and include video tutorials.