There is nothing better than the feeling of giving back to the community, especially inspiring young minds. I just had an experience with this in an Hour of Code™ with my son’s 3rd grade class. It was a wholly amazing experience.
The event was the brainchild of Larry Domine, an instructor at Milwaukee Area Technical College, and his wife Frau Wessels a 3rd grade teacher at the Milwaukee German Immersion School. It was a reward for the students who met and exceeded goals that were set in a resent Boosterthon Fun Run the school held. My wife found out about the event from our oldest son and inquired about my assistance with the event.
I was a bit hesitant at first because I was not sure what I would be getting into. However, I thought back to my first experience with computers. I was in first or second grade, our class went to the school library (the only place in the school that had a few computers) and one of the teachers sat us down and showed us all the different parts of the computer. He took the top off and showed us all the internal components. I knew from that moment on that computers were going to be my thing.
So I thought if I could do that same thing for someone else- show them the wonders of computers-I could open up a whole world of possibilities for them. So I agreed to come in and assist where I could with the students.
The event started with introductions from Larry and myself. Larry explained his role at MATC and I explained a bit about Graydient and what I do there. Larry wanted this event to be very organic and just allow the kids to work through the process on their own with some assistance from us if needed.
With that, Larry walked the class through getting to the Hour of Code™ site at hourofcode.org/code and that is where the magic really began! After getting the kids setup with headphones, they started with the introduction video and they were off and running They learned how Blockly works and built their own expression for each of the tasks at hand. The challenges walked the kids through tasks to achieve a simple goal that would increase in difficulty as they progressed. Some puzzles present the same challenge in a slightly different way to really get the kids thinking from all angles.
Some did better than others, but I think that everyone had fun. It was awesome to see the joy and excitement that came when someone figured out one of the puzzles and moved to the next challenge. There were a few kids that completed all 20 exercises in the challenge and everyone made it well past the half way mark.
After our hour was up and all the laptops had been put away, Fr Wessles asked the class for a thumbs up, thumbs down, or sideways thumb to gauge how the kids felt about the challenges. There was not one thumbs down in the room! She then asked for the same responses from the kids to see if they would like to try something similar next year and if they were going to try more exercises from code.org at home and again the majority indicated they would like to do it again and would be doing more at home. As a way to encourage the kids to do some more activities she even offered extra credit.
So I feel safe saying it was a huge success and the kids loved it. Personally, I am having a hard time putting into words the feelings I had after leaving the class for the day. It was by far one of the best experiences of my life. So with that I challenge you, if you are a software developer or have had interests in the field please take the time to check out code.org and the Hour of Code. Encourage your kids to get involved, look for opportunities to have your own Hour of Code and help open that door for yourself or someone else. The feeling it will leave you with is fully worth it!
Have you participated in any recent community outreach programs to inspire future generations? We want to hear about your experiences! Contact us here or comment below!