Students celebrate “Hours and Weeks” of coding in Utica Community Schools
Students celebrate “Hours and Weeks” of coding in Utica Community Schools
Posted on 12/06/2018
Four students looking at iPadThroughout the world, students celebrated computer science last week with activities under a banner of an  “Hour of Code.”

Throughout Utica Community Schools, students celebrated computer science last week – and every other week -  with coding and programming lessons that are among "Hours of Code" lessons that take place at every grade level.

The national Hour of Code is a global event that sparks interest in computer science and to encourage students to consider careers that currently have nearly 14,000 openings in Michigan alone.

While all UCS schools were among the nearly 700 million events worldwide, the district remains committed to giving computer science experiences to students throughout their day.

They are lessons that are making an impact on students.

“I have learned that coding is very fun,” said Beck Elementary fourth grader Evangelos Karasaevas. “I also learned when I grow up, I want to do this.”

Utica Community Schools was one of the first districts to partner with national Code.Org to expand opportunities through integration of coding in elementary media centers, the creation of exploratory courses at the junior high school, expanded computer sciences courses at high school as well as the integration of coding principles in Algebra 1 programs.

Teachers also focus on ensuring all students have access to coding experiences.

Media Center teachers recently received a $40,000 grant from the The Community Telecommunications Network to create a mobile learning unit that provides coding resources – iPads, robots, and programming kits - that can travel between all 25 UCS elementary schools.

“Our goal in Utica Community Schools is to bring this interactive coding experience to every student by designing and implementing mobile coding labs that will be used by each of our 25 elementary schools,” said Beck Media Specialists Cory Widener. “Project C.O.D.E. (Creating Outstanding Digital Education) will put hands-on, relevant computer science materials in every learners hands and ensure they are ready to face the digital challenges of the future.

Meanwhile, UCS students joined their peers in more than 180 countries by recognizing the Hour of Code and computer science week.

Activities included using the creative coding “Dance Party”, coding with robots, and other hands on coding applications. 

Guest speakers also visited schools to talk about computer programming and web design and family nights are planned at various schools. 

Students also took part in “unplugged” activities such as creating algorithms for robots, learning graph paper programming using a Twister board, and making paper airplanes following an algorithm.  

While students call the coding activities “a lot of fun,” they also understand what coding means and why it is important.

“Coding is when you put in different directions into a program to make the computer do different things,” Beck fourth-grader Addison Daniels.  “For example, when the designers of the computers put in all of these 0s and 1s they are telling the computer to do different things. When you are searching something on Google, it can sort out the different files that can give you the links that you want.”