HAMDEN – Sitting on the school’s gymnasium floor with their laptops, 506 Sacred Heart Academy students immersed themselves in a special "Hour of Code" event Dec. 13, learning how to write computer code.
They were part of a nationwide initiative held during Computer Education Week to motivate students to learn computer science.
Sponsored by a nonprofit group, Code.org, the event was designed to encourage students to think about studying computer science, and to get computer science classes established in every school in the country. An estimated 15 million students participated in the event.
Students were introduced to the project with a short video, "What Most Schools Don’t Teach," which featured appearances by Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Miami Heat star Chris Bosh, actor Ashton Kutcher and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Next, the students took a stab at learning basic programming concepts with a puzzle game called Light-bot. The coding exercises offered student-players a practical understanding of such basic control-flow concepts as instruction sequencing, procedures and loops.
The academy already is among high schools that teach computer science to students in its honors program and technology club. Students learn data structure, data analysis and how to write code through the study of algorithm design, problem solving and problem finding.
"I saw this as a great opportunity for students to realize that this is something they can do, and will be able to do at some point in their high school career," said David Alexandro, SHA’s dean of academic affairs and computer science teacher.
According to Code.org, one million jobs go unfilled because schools fail to teach students how to code.
Organizers hope to inspire students to take the time to understand what computer science is and see how it influences commerce, politics, medicine, education, design, science and society.