A Slice of Code for Every Student
Imagine you are hungry. Hungry for learning, hungry for something new. Now imagine something perfect shows up in your hands that not only fills your hunger, but also an excitement for learning! This was the Hour of Code pizza box in Edmonton Catholic Schools (ECS).
Rewind to 2014 when a group of passionate educators dedicated to educational technology wanted to be part of a global event called Hour of Code. This one hour world-wide educational event allowed students to experience first-hand that computer science could be part of any subject area, on any device, for any grade, and that they could learn to code! Our Emerging Technology (EmTech) Team of edtech consultants wanted to support this event to promote the crucial competencies of problem solving, computational thinking, and critical thinking for every student along with a basic understanding of what coding even was. While there were many digital resources available, our EmTech team knew we needed to deliver the code into the hands of students hungry to learn more about computer science. During the 2015 Hour of Code event, this is where the pizza box was born - a physical representation of a digital world delivered into the palm of our students’ hands! In our first year sending pizza boxes, it included a glitter bomb of excitement explaining what the Hour of Code was. In 2016 two was a talking pizza box (much like a talking greeting card) encouraging every school to explore computer science as part of our everyday curriculum, along with activity cards. For 2017 we’ve taken the pizza box to a whole new level, delivering a micro:bit to each and every school.
The micro:bit is an amazing pocket sized computer that allows students to code, create, and collaborate! Each school has been given a micro:bit challenge to get started in using this amazing computer device, along with the Microsoft MakeCode programming tool, to take hands-on learning to the next level. In the first two weeks that we have launched the micro:bit and MakeCode tool in Edmonton Catholic Schools, we have seen students of all ages create incredible code that brings their learning to life! Students have created step counters, compliment machines, animated stories, musical compositions, and math games all with this hand held wonder. We have seen a similar passion for learning from teachers who have wanted to learn alongside their students. Students and teachers have been excited to use this small but powerful device to supports literacy, numeracy, creativity, and imagination all at the same time! Although we’ve started by providing only one micro:bit device to each school, we are seeing our schools purchasing school sets themselves as they instantly see high value in this low-cost computing device.
While living in a digital world, we still need to remember that what we hold in the palm of our hands gives us a glimpse into our future. With over 22,000 ECSD students participating in the Hour of Code last year, we know that students are now ready to make their Language Arts, Math, Science and more come to life before their eyes and we have seen this happen with the amazing creations so far using the micro:bit computer and MakeCode in the classroom.
What will we deliver next year? The possibilities are endless!
About the Authors:
We are the Emerging Technology Team from Edmonton Catholic Schools. We are educators passionate about educational technology to support student centered learning.
This post is part of a series dedicated to celebrating computer science education. Watch for a new computer science-focused post every day during Computer Science Education Week to inspire you to try coding and deepen your learning through coding.