DENVILLE, NJ – Technology is always advancing to another generation every year. Nowadays, while some adults are struggling to keep up with the times, public schools give students new opportunities to learn such advancements and what they can do in the world with it. From Dec. 9 - 13, the Denville Township School District conducted an annual weeklong initiative known as Hour of Code (HOC).
“The theme this year is computer science,” said Stacia Rothrock, computer teacher and technology instructor at Lakeview Elementary School.
“Students get to learn how to use computer science for others. They can even use machine learning and artificial intelligence to use for ocean cleaning and fire forest prevention. Every year, more and more people do this. Students get to do creative things and learn how to create things with the technology around them. It’s really empowering, and they’re hungry for it. This is not a fad that will pass away.”
For the whole week, students of Riverview Elementary School, Lakeview Elementary School and Valleyview Middle School were given hands-on experience in computer technology, science, media, and coding. Some programs taught them how to program a robot to identify what is trash and should be collected, and what is part of a natural environment and should be left alone.
HOC is a worldwide initiative that gives people, primarily young school students, the opportunities to see the advantages of new computer sciences and navigate through today's tech-saturated world. It also provides a spark to ignite young minds, inspiring them to keep learning new concepts. This initiative has been conducted in township schools for the past six years and students, such as eight-year-old Jacqueline Boreck, were happy to be doing it again this year.
“Hour of Code is something very special,” said Boreck, a second grader at Lakeview.
“It doesn’t happen every year, but you can learn stuff that can help the world solve problems.”
During the week, township students were often visited by special guests, including Mayor Thomas Andes, Morris County Sheriff James Gannon, several police officers, Superintendent Steve Forte, and members of the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDE).
“Governor Murphy signed on for computer science for all,” said Linda Eno, NJDE assistant commissioner of academics and performance.
“We think it’s a critical skill for all 21st century learners and we love seeing students this young excited about coding. NJDE commissioner Lamont Repollet applauds educators who have committed to making sure our students are prepared for the future.”
Lakeview hosted a family night to allow parents to experience an hour of coding aside their children.
“Hour of Code is really fun,” said nine-year-old third grader Milo Forman of Riverview.
“It teaches you about algorithms and how to code them in different ways. I like how you can build your own character and make it go where you want.”
At the end of the week, fourth and fifth grade Riverview students participated in a Code-a-Thon, where they visited the HOC website to select the program from which to learn coding. Due to a server error that blocked access to the internet for a while, students were moved into the hallways and classrooms to receive better service.
Riverview’s Code-a-Thon also included a food drive component. Accordingly, students collected non-perishable food items to donate to the local food pantry.
For Valleyview students, like 13-year-old eighth grader John Elliott, got to choose their programs from the HOC website all week long, such as making their own games. Elliott had fun making computer characters move to a dance routine.
“Hour of Code teaches us how to get creative and make your own thing,” said Elliott.
“If I had a dance crew, I would make an animation video to show them what their routine is like visually.”
Hour of Code was first founded in 2013 by Code.org, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Seattle, Washington. Code.org is dedicated to expanding participation in new computer science and technology. Hour of Code has reached tens of millions of students in more than 180 countries and is available in more than 45 languages. Denville school leaders are happy that their students are part of this large initiative.
“I’m so proud of all of them,” said Superintendent Steve Forte.
“Everyone gets so into Hour of Code -- the students, the teachers and the public. It’s our sixth year, and it gets bigger and bigger. I’m happy to see everyone having fun doing it.”
To learn more about Hour of Code, and about Code.org, visit their website at https://hourofcode.com/us.
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