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Week of Code Continues to Raise Computer Science's Profile at Rowland Hall
Posted 12/07/2016 01:58PM

The Lower School took part again this year in the national  Week of Code December 5-11. This time, coding activities were more intertwined in curriculum so the spirit of the event could live on throughout the school year.

Rowland Hall Director of Technology Integration Christian Waters and Lower School Principal Jij de Jesus worked closely with teachers to develop a schedule for all first through fifth graders to participate in Week of Code—our own elongated version of the global Hour of Code.

Hour of Code and the tech experts behind it advocate coding as the new literacy for 21st-century learners. Students familiar with code, experts say, will design new solutions to the world's challenges. Rowland Hall already offers technology courses and curricula to help students develop an understanding of how computers work, Mr. Waters said, and we’ll keep adding classes and other ways for students to express themselves through science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Rowland Hall will continue to take part in the Hour of Code to showcase the importance of computer science, Mr. Waters said. There's a deluge of tech jobs in Utah and across the U.S., and part of the solution to filling those jobs involves getting more women interested in the field. Women are notoriously underrepresented in the tech industry, but the school is working to change that by making computer science interesting for young girls, Mr. Waters added. “We feel it’s particularly valuable for girls to see female role models in technology fields and understand how engaging and creative computer science can be,” he said. Last spring, Rowland Hall hosted a screening of the documentary CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap followed by a panel discussion with director/producer Robin Hauser and local women and men in STEM education and tech. And a spring Fine Print story detailed how in the Upper School, girls are some of Rowland Hall’s highest-profile STEM students.

John Quinn, founder and chief development officer at cloud-storage company Storj, dropped by Jeanne Zeigler’s third-grade class December 6 to talk to students (including his daughter, Abi) about the importance of coding. “We’re entering a world where artificial intelligence—computers and robotics—are going to impact your life in various ways,” Mr. Quinn told the students. If you don’t know how to program, you might be stuck behind, he said. But if you learn programming, “you’ll be able to build things and you’ll be able to create your own kind of interesting world.”

Students in Mrs. Zeigler’s class proved they won’t be stuck behind. The third graders used iPads to play Minecraft, Flappy Bird, or Star Wars through Code.org, and were transfixed as they solved the problems presented by these coding-oriented games. At least one dynamic duo collaborated to maximize success—Ocky Moyle and Lizzy Weiss worked together to whiz through Star Wars, and threw their arms up in excitement as they beat level after level.

 

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