Computers are everywhere, but nationally fewer schools teach computer science than 10 years ago. Imagine an eastern Kentucky where every student understands basic coding and computer science. What would this mean for our region? However our students choose to lead in the changing economy, their ability to succeed will increasingly hinge on understanding how technology works.
According to the new Kentucky Commissioner of Education, Stephen Pruitt, in his December 11 blog post, “Kentucky had a banner week in Education!“ The observance of the Hour of Code was one of the highlights. The Hour of Code is a global movement that gives students an opportunity to learn computer coding, another name for programming. Students in Kentucky, the U.S. and in more than 180 countries around the world took part in the Hour of Code. All teachers in the 17 school districts in the Appalachian Renaissance Initiative, ARI, were invited to participate in this global event. Roy G. Eversole Elementary School’s Computer teacher, Sherri Cornett, introduced her students in K-4 to coding by participating in the Hour of Code. In addition, Hazard Middle School sixth grade students also joined the millions of students around the world in the Hour of Code. Billie Bowling and Ashley Haynes, sixth grade teachers at HMS were excited about involving their students in this global event.
Hazard Independent is also participating in the Appalachian Technology Institute, ATI, a growing Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC) program currently offering 372 middle and high school students with introduction to computer program courses through ARI. Hazard Middle School eighth grade students and Hazard High School students are currently included in ATI. Through programs like ATI and this week’s nationwide Hour of Codeä initiative, classrooms in the seventeen ARI eastern Kentucky school districts have increasing access to creative coding opportunities and daily computer science
ATI teacher and Hour of Code coordinator in Floyd County, Kelly Boles said, “Computer science remains one of the most foreign languages to our students, and for this generation it should be a native language. Its our responsibility as educators and as a nation to make sure they’re exposed to it, and develop an understanding of what is promised to be one of the best career opportunities.”
Last week, thousands of students in KVEC and ARI school districts joined in on the largest coordinated learning event in history: The Hour of Code, during Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 7-13). KVEC hosted a culminating Christmas Coding Carnival on Saturday for students of all ages that featured a variety of robots, coding stations of varying levels, a skype call from Santa, and ended with a drone flight over Hazard that filmed students celebrating and taking turns driving the aircraft.
“This type of learning nurtures problem-solving, logic, and creativity, all skills we need to fuel our economy. By starting early, students have a foundation for success in any 21st-century careers. Our students need to know they can be more than consumers of technology, but builders and developers.” said Dr. Katrina Slone, KVEC and ARI Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) lead.