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Island students learn how to program during global Hour of Code event

Carron McCabe, program director with Brilliant Labs, discusses coding with student Kai Gillan-Johnson during the Hour of Code event held at West Kent Elementary Wednesday. Students were encouraged to build their coding skills as part of the global event.
Carron McCabe, program director with Brilliant Labs, discusses coding with student Kai Gillan-Johnson during the Hour of Code event held at West Kent Elementary Wednesday. Students were encouraged to build their coding skills as part of the global event. - Terrence McEachern

Rock, paper, scissors is a classic game played at elementary schools.

But when Grade 5 West Kent Elementary School classmates Eve Morris and Nora Cunniffe squared off for a match on Wednesday, their version gave the game a technological makeover as one of the activities to mark the global Hour of Code event.

“They’re learning about coding. They’re troubleshooting and problem solving with each other. They’re building resilience. When it doesn’t work the first time, what do they do and how do they handle that?” said Carron McCabe, program director on P.E.I. with the not-for-profit educational organization Brilliant Labs. “So, they’re building those skills to help work through issues and challenges, which is awesome.”

Coding activities are nothing new at the school.

Patti Graham, a teacher librarian and technology contact, runs the school’s Code Club. She said this is the second year for the club, which can attract between 30 to 50 students during a lunch hour.

“Learning to code helps them with lots of skills, like problem solving, because they’re always going to come up with something in the computer program that doesn’t work. For example, they’re making a program out of rock, paper, scissors, and the scissors part keeps coming up.”

Graham added that teaching coding to children can potentially prepare them for future jobs as well as teach them valuable critical thinking skills.

Premier Wade MacLauchlan and Jordan Brown, education minister, also visited the classroom to talk to students about their coding activities.

McCabe was at the school to help out with the Hour of Code. She explained that 21 schools on P.E.I. signed up to participate in the global, week-long event, which builds coding skills through hour-long, online activities.

Morris and Cunniffe, both 10, were among the 17 students in Gillian Caissie’s French immersion class. To play rock, paper, scissors, they downloaded the information from their computer onto portable devices called micro bits.

Hallie Bernard, 9, was working on coding animation that played a song on her computer. She started coding last year.

“It’s just really fun,” she said. “I think everyone should do coding.”

terrence.mceachern@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/terry_mcn

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