Point Pleasant Beach school participates in global ‘Hour of Code’

By Christina Leslie | Trenton Monitor Correspondent

PROGRAMMING PUPILS • Students in St. Peter School, Point Pleasant Beach, use laptops and other tech devices to complete their first Hour of Code in December. Photo courtesy of St. Peter School

Students in St. Peter School, Point Pleasant Beach, flexed their computer skills the week of Dec. 4 as the school held its first “Hour of Code” event, designed to take the mystery out of computer coding and show that anyone can learn the basics of mastering the devices that reach into every aspect of our daily lives.

The “Hour of Code” aims to introduce students of all ages and grades to the field of computer coding, according to its website, hourofcode.com. The one-hour segments which blend fun and instruction via have grown into a worldwide effort to celebrate the field; the initiative is supported by some 200,000 educators worldwide and more than 400 partners including Apple, Disney, Facebook, Google, MSN and YouTube.

The Hour of Code takes place each year during Computer Science Education Week, held each December, to commemorate the birthday of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper. The project often expands to multiple days and was designed to reach tens of millions of students of all ages in more than 180 countries and in 45 languages.

St. Peter School’s week-long observation of Hour of Code was one of 47,019 in the United States, 1,625 of them in New Jersey. Technology teacher, Carl De Pazza, explained the reasons for the Catholic school’s first-time participation in the initiative.

“Computer coding is an important thing in everyone’s life to learn,” De Pazza said. “It’s the basis for everything, for coding is everywhere: in our phones, our computers, our tablets.”

The Catholic school used its full array of computer resources during the project, including Surface Pro 4 computers, Dell desktop and laptop computers and 150 iPads. Each grade level worked on a different unit tailored for them from the scores offered by the Hour of Code resource site.

De Pazza noted, “The kindergarteners used ‘Box Island,’ where they had to program items to hop over and into other objects, step by step.” Older students experimented with characters from Star Wars, Minecraft and others. In addition, “students created games and sent it to their phones and computers to share with their friends,” he continued.

Students both enjoyed and reaped the benefits of the coding exercise.

Fifth grade student Connor Dashkavich made the most of his time in the Hour of Code project. “I did the Minecraft, Java script and played Flappy Bird,” he said. “It was really fun. I liked learning how to do it and how it works.”

Analisa Piemonte, an eighth grader, was proud of her two accomplishments during the coding.

“I created my own Google page where the letters could move in a weather theme: the O was a sun and the L an umbrella. I also had my avatar move in a Minecraft universe,” she stated. “It was a great introduction for kids into the computer field, and great fun.”

Seventh grade student, Gavin Ramins, understood the value of the computer exercise, noting, “I did a Star Wars game, and made my R2D2 robot character take actions. I was definitely using different skills. Knowing the exact number of actions the character needed to take to move was math, for instance.”

De Pazza expressed the success of the program, saying, “I’ve already had requests from students to do it again.”

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