Hour of Code connects students with computer programming

amayfield@vagazette.com

Norge Elementary School students learned to code video games starring dragons, zombies and aliens who fight duels and go on adventures.

The Friday opportunity was part of an annual event called Hour of Code, which was created by Code.org to introduce kids to the world of programming, said Cindy Cattell, Norge Elementary School's computer resource teacher.

"The Hour of Code plays to their interests. They feel like they are playing a game," Cattell said.

Students got a behind-the-scenes look into the programming behind classic games like Star Wars and Minecraft. At the end of the lesson they created their own interactive games, said Virginia Greene, a Norge Elementary School special education assistant.

"They play computer games everyday," Greene said. Hour of Code "helps them understand that everything has to be done step by step."

Fifth grade students conquered tasks and discussed problem solving techniques with partners during the event.

Ripley, a 10-year-old student who has never participated in the Hour of Code, created a game where penguins fought alien octopuses.

"I thought it would be numbers and letters, and I would have to be like Sherlock," said Ripley, adding that the coding was easier than she anticipated.

Ayden, a 10-year-old who has participated in the event for three years, said it was awesome that he could program his characters to introduce themselves with unique greetings.

"I didn't even know that was possible," Ayden said.

For Cattell, who is working with Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools to create a curriculum that includes coding for all elementary students, the best part of Hour of Code is watching students gain confidence to solve problems and learn new technology.

"They gain that confidence that they can figure it out and they can problem solve. Moving forward if someone asks them to do something with a piece of technology they haven't seen before they can figure it out themselves," Cattell said.

To see photos and a video of the Hour of Code at Norge Elementary School, visit vagazette.com.

Mayfield can be reached at 757-298-5828.

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