Computer Science Week

Hello Leap Families,

It is so nice to finally be writing to everyone without a bill attached at the end. I would like to let you in on something we have been working on for the last few months: The week of December 8‐14 is designated as Computer Science Education Week. In order to celebrate this, we are attempting to have every child at LEAP (and any others interested) participate in an Hour of Code (http://code.org). This is an international attempt to have all children program for one hour during this week. As of this writing, over 55 million children have already learned to program in one fashion or another. Code.org is a website that provides tutorials for programming in several different languages (Scratch, Python, Java) and involves Angry Birds, Plants Vs. Zombies and Frozen characters to keep children interested. We introduced these tutorials to children in October and it has been difficult to tear some of them away from it.

This effort comes with certain challenges. The biggest is that we want this to be available to all ages. To fix this we have recruited a dozen LEAP students to act as mentors during this week. We have kids ranging from 2nd grade through 5th that have already run through the tutorials and are primed to help anyone with questions, give clues to the next challenge, or even just read directions for the younger ones. We are in a great position to do this because of the courses we offered that taught Scratch programming (scratch.mit.edu) in the past year. For many that took the classes, these tutorials are a walk in the park. What is most exciting about this, is what it should do to LEAP as a whole. The younger children should experience help from the older ones, hopefully building trust within LEAP in a positive, reinforcing environment. Furthermore, this will empower the mentors, create a little more family atmosphere here and maybe even encourage us to all get along. But shhh, don’t tell them that, as far as they all know they’re just playing games right?

Chris Burns

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