‘Hour of Code’ at Hathaway empowers, educates

Elementary students learn language of computers

Hathaway Elementary students Jason Burden, a first-grader, (left) and Virginia Burden, in fourth grade (middle) learn about computer science language in a recent "Hour of Code" event held at the Washougal elementary school. (Contributed photo by Rene Carroll, courtesy of the Washougal School District)

Hathaway Elementary School fourth-grader Carter Boucher (left) and first-grade Ethan Boucher (right) attend the "Hour of Code" event held in early December at their Washougal elementary school. (Contributed photo by Rene Carroll, courtesy of the Washougal School District)

In December, Hathaway Elementary students joined millions of others worldwide to explore computer sciences and participate in the “Hour of Code” event held during Computer Science Education Week. The Hour of Code is a global movement designed to introduce tens of millions of students to computer sciences, inspire them to learn about computer science, break stereotypes and feel more empowered by their new knowledge.

“We are preparing all our K-5 students for the future by incorporating coding into the library curriculum,” said Heather Christofferson, Hathaway librarian.

Using the website www.code.org, students can access hundreds of fun, challenging activities that introduce them to the basics of coding. These games feature well-known brands and imagery including “Minecraft,” “Star Wars,” Disney’s “Frozen,” “Angry Birds” and “Plants vs. Zombies.”

Coding, simply put, is the language used for programming computers to do tasks.

“Not only are our students learning the language, but they are very quickly learning new reading and math skills, empowering and building their own self-esteem by learning to push through their mistakes and solve problems,” Christofferson said. “More importantly, many who are quick to pick up the skills are helping others to learn without being asked.”

“This is fun and kind of challenging,” said Hathaway third-grader Ethan Dowl. “Coding is giving commands to make things do things.”

According to Christofferson, the experience helped Hathaway students thrive in new ways.

“Many more of them are trying, on their own, to find books in the library,” she explained. “They look up new subjects on computers, use maps and research when something interests them.”

Coding exploration at Hathaway will continue after the Hour of Code event.

“I want to give a broader learning experience and start exposing students to these skills,” Christofferson said. “Coding and computer programing is used in all fields including music and the arts, sports, business and (the) science fields. Students really want the fun experience of playing these games. We love that they are charged up to play them and build real life skills at the same time. I really feel this is an important addition to our curriculum. It’s exciting to see.”

Want to learn more about the Hour of Code? Visit www.code.org.

Information by Rene Carroll, courtesy of the Washougal School District