Fun with coding
Event introduces students to concepts of coding
Hour of Code Combines Learning and Fun
The Spheros were the heroes of the Port Chester High School’s Hour of Code on March 13.
The spherical robots zipped across the floor, sometimes crashing into a student’s foot and occasionally hitting the intended target — a small rubber bowling pin. Regardless of which object the robot struck, it often caused laughter to erupt from onlookers.
Manipulating the Sphero’s was just one of the activities taking place at PCHS during the day long Hour of Code event. Students were invited to the library when they had a free period to spend time coding. They had an opportunity to select a tutorial for an app, which enabled them to create a game. Among the options were Flappy Bird, Star Wars, Dance Party, Minecraft and Frozen.
In addition, they could speak with special guest Sandy Barnabas, a software developer at Amazon. Computer science teacher Virginia Peterson suggested that those interested in studying computer science speak with Mr. Barnabas to learn more about the industry and his experiences, as they could learn from someone who codes every day.
Then there were the Spheros.
An obstacle course was set up on the floor of the library by math teacher Carlos Gomez. Students, and some brave teachers, used a computer to manipulate the robots’ movements, either by using certain keys on the keyboard or with the trackpad. The Sphero can also be manipulated through writing code to program the robot to behave in a certain way. The object was to move through the course and knock down pins. The Sphero that knocked down the most pins was declared the victor.
The Hour of Code is a nationwide initiative hosted by code.org. This is the third year the event has been held at PCHS and it has grown each year.
All the participants were invited to grab a Chromebook and log into Google classroom. Soon, all the tables in the library were filled with students with their noses in a computer instead of a book.
PCHS began offering computer science classes four years ago and an event such as this helps introduce all students to some of the concepts they study.
“We are learning how to code in different ways,” Ms. Peterson said about the event. “They see what a computer science class is like and what we do there. We try to keep it fun.”
This was the first year the Spheros were part of the event. They were purchased through a grant. Mr. Gomez was responsible for learning how to use them.
“Every year, we try to do something bigger,” Mr. Gomez said. “Having the robots here was great.”
The games — those being developed on the apps or with the Spheros are a way to introduce coding to students in a less structured manner.
Senior Lisa Guaman who worked on a game said she is interested in studying marketing. She took a computer science class because she wants to help clients develop their websites and she wants to learn how to do that. She said learning different programs, like Scratch, and using tutorial sites, such as Khan Academy, was interesting. This was her second year attending the fun Hour of Code.
“I’ve always liked computers,” said senior Dany Zagazeta, who has taken AP Computer Science and would like to study computer engineering.
One thing he has noticed, since his freshman year, is how technology has changed in that short amount of time.
“Everything is on computers,” Dany said.
Sophomore Emily Morocho took a coding class and was attending the Hour of Code for the first time.
“I thought it was cool,” she said.
“I think it’s very future-minded of the school,” sophomore Thomas Ross said. “Technology is an important aspect of all of society.”