by guest blogger, Michael W. ’14

From Dec. 9 to 13, Harrisburg Academy students participated in Code.org’s world-wide Computer Science Education Week and Hour of Code campaign.  As a student and an avid computer programmer, this week provided an exciting opportunity to share the challenge and joy of coding.  The goal of the campaign was to have 10 million students learn computer programming and write code during the week, and all Academy students in 1st through 12th grade participated.

As an experienced computer programmer, I have encouraged people to start coding because it is a universal “language”.  Those educated in computer science and programming are in high demand in many job areas, and having the chance to learn these skills at the Academy is invaluable.  Even students in Lower School had the opportunity to learn that coding is a fun and useful skill.  This is why the Hour of Code campaign is unique; it takes traditional programming and makes it easy to understand and exciting to do.

The Academy utilized Blockly, which is a visual programming language.  Lower School students would write code for a character in a specific scene on the screen by dragging and dropping blocks signifying actions that the character would then perform.  In the upper grades, we learned to use “if statements” and loops to do complex actions, making the character navigate mazes and puzzles.  Everyone seemed to enjoy mastering the puzzles and learning the challenge of coding.  Moreover, many Upper School students looked at the written code that performed these actions so that they could learn to program using the actual coding “language”.

It was very exciting to see so many students, young and old, programming as part of their school day.  And it was exciting for the Academy community as a whole to be part of this innovative approach computer science education.

I can’t wait to see what will come next!