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December 17. 2013 11:28PM

'Hour of Code' taps student creativity


Third-grader Aidan Major teamed up with second-grader Finnley DeBeckers Friday afternoon during the Hour of Code event at Southern NH Montessori Academy. (APRIL GUILMET)

LONDONDERRY — When parents of students at ask their children what they learned at school that day, the answers are often surprising.

Friday was one of those days.As part of Computer Science Education Week, 21 students at the school joined 2 million of their peers worldwide for the Hour of Code, a lesson in the basics of computer coding.

According to the school's director, Debra Repozo-Hogan, the students were all previously introduced to the binary numeral system as part of their foundational lessons.

"We live in a world surrounded by technology," Repozo-Hogan said. "And we know that whatever field our students choose to go into as adults, their ability to succeed will increasingly hinge on understanding how technology works."

Tanya Swann, the school's IT coordinator, said the idea is to give the children a working knowledge of how computers "talk."

Several weeks before Thanksgiving, children in grades one through six began working with Light-Bot, a colorful coding tutorial.

After watching an educational video starring Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Facebook entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg Friday, each younger child was paired up with an older peer to work as partners.

Instantly, the room became quiet, save the steady cadence of small fingers worked to make the tiny "Angry Birds" characters move about the screen.

Others worked to create an online holiday card or make a cartoon cat dance on cue.

"Each set of lessons have been received with enthusiasm, intrigue and a tremendous focus," Repozo-Hogan said. "We've had wonderfully positive feedback from many families sharing that their children not only enjoyed their lessons, but have already begun to expand their interests outside the classroom."Teacher James Osborne, who teachers first, second and third grade at the school, said his students are enjoying their early experiences in computer coding.

"The idea is to have them work in tune with the purely logical level in which computers operate," he said.

Swann, whose son, Jeremy, is a first-grader at the school, said other parents have praised the program.

"It's pretty amazing to get a binary lesson from your first- or second-grader," she said with a laugh.

Repozo-Hogan stressed the importance of instilling such knowledge at a very young age.

"Children's creativity is at its highest level when they're young," she said. "As we get older, that creativity doesn't go away, but we do tend to get more inhibited."

"So the idea here is to cultivate that creativity right now and keep all of those doors open," she said.aguilmet@newstote.com


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