Date line: October 29, 2013…

The Academy began preparations for the first ever Hour of Code to run during Computer Science in Education week, December 9 to 15. During that week, every student in grade K to 12 had the opportunity to try coding (which you may know is short for computer programming). The students were excited and participated enthusiastically, some not wanting to stop at the end of the designated hour. When the activities were over, we declared Hour of Code to be a resounding success. Our students were joined by over 15 million other students globally, making this activity fit perfectly with the mission of the Academy.

Date line: December 14, 2014…

Hour of Code is again successful with over 50 million students participating, including our grades K to 12….so successful, in fact that the Technology committee decided to assemble an after-school Coding Club to engage the students who are seriously interested in computer programming.

Date line: March 2015…

Coding Club begins – Monday for Grades 7 through 12 and Thursday for Grades 3 through 6. In the hands of our very capable MS/US Computer Science instructor, Mrs. Becky Coutts, we were off to a great start.  The younger set started programming interactive games in the language called Scratch. The older group began with projects in Alice.

Date line: April 23, 2015…

After almost two months, the Grades 3 to 6 group have accomplished so much and have begun to reach the most sophisticated levels of programming in Scratch. Their game programs are detailed and well thought-out, many of them reaching into areas only covered toward the end of a graduate-level Scratch programming course! Some have declared the projects complete and moved on to new creations.

The older students have switched from Alice to programming directly in Java. While little commercial program development occurs in Alice, having been designed as a teaching tool, Java is a serious professional development language widely used around the globe. It is also one of the languages that is used in many AP Computer Science and IB Computer Science courses.

So you can see, how in a matter of a few short years, we have continued to innovate the teaching of Computer Science at Harrisburg Academy.  No longer is “coding” a rather exotic elective subject with sparse participation in the school  — and no longer do students have to wait until 11th grade to become involved in computer programming.  In fact, we’re quite excited by the use of this serious, professional programming language now in use by 7th graders — and with remarkable results.  And we believe our younger students may soon move to a higher level of sophistication, too.