Hour of Code Activities

Welcome to Lima City Schools’ Hour of Code Page!

Computers are magic, mystical, malevolent creatures that react completely randomly–taming them requires computer wizards. Everyone knows that. Wrong!  If you speak to computers in their language, they respond predictably and reliably. The secret is learning to speak that language, also known as computer coding (or “writing code” or simply “coding.”) Because the ability to understand computer logic and write code is becoming an essential 21st century skill, the organization Hour of Code  has a goal of every student world-wide getting a one hour intro to computer coding, with the hope that the students are inspired to continue studying it. (Here’s an interesting idea: This article from Wired Magazine suggests that coding is the next big blue collar job. If they’re onto something, coding is even more essential for our students.)

Your Mission Today: This page lists many activities that you can sample to learn a bit about computer logic and coding. Scroll down and see what looks interesting. You are welcome to try a little bit of everything, or to spend your whole time focused on one activity. This page will be available after the in-service end, so you’re welcome to come back often to experiment with other tools. And please, share this. Your friends, family, and students are welcome to use this site as a portal to the world of coding!

Hour of Code Activities

Hour of Code Official Site   https://studio.code.org/

Eight different coding challenges await at the Hour of Code Studio. All of them are presented in a game-like format, and offer ample hints and encouragement. The emphasis is on introducing you to the logic and process of creating code.

minecraft

The Minecraft coding challenge guides you as you write code to help the miners complete tasks they need to build a house and survive. No knowledge of Minecraft is needed!                                         logo_tall_starwars

Star Wars is everywhere these days, including at Hour of Code. Programming the new droid, BB-8, and our old friends R2D2 and C3PO are the focus of the tasks you can do if you choose this programming game.

Both the Minecraft and Star Wars challenges are good introductions and could be used with younger students. Starting with one of them is a good idea! 

logo_tall_flappy

Flappy Bird is still fairly simple, but there are more variables to control at the beginning than the earlier two games offer. It’s fun and interactive, and logo_tall_frozeneven young students could do this, too.

Ice skating is beautiful to watch, but it’s more complicated than it seems! Computer logic abounds in this challenge based on Disney’s Frozen. It starts easily, but leads you to some fairly complex logic. The site suggests it is best for 3rd grade and higher.

Hour of Code has four other activities at https://studio.code.org/ and offers free 20 hour courses for students ranging from age 4 through high school, too.

Tynker Hour Of Code https://www.tynker.com/hour-of-code/

tynkerYou can make Monster High girls dance and control Hot Wheels cars as they maneuver obstacle courses as part of your Hour of Code activities. Tynker offers a wide variety of games and activities beyond those two brands ranging from beginning to advanced.

How Tynker describes itself:  Tynker is a creative computing platform where millions of kids have learned to program and built games, apps and more. Tynker offers self-paced online courses for children to learn coding at home, as well as an engaging programming curriculum for schools.

Grok Learning Hour of Code https://groklearning.com/hoc-2015/

code-rocket@2x

Grok Learning’s Hour of Code offers lots of support and explanation. Note that younger elementary students probably will find Grok (and Khan and Code Academy) less accessible than the official Hour of Code and Tynker coding games. Grok Learning highlights Python, a common computer language. If you enjoy the coding that you’re doing as part of Hour of Code and want to learn more, Grok has an extensive list of classes and competitions, with free accounts for teachers.

Google CS First Hour of Code http://www.cs-first.com/content/hour-code-students

HOC2

Google’s CS First program offers animation exercises for Hour of Code along with their support for Coding Clubs. They focus on students in grades 4th-8th, and offer a wide variety of flexibility.

Khan Academy Hour of Code    https://www.khanacademy.org/hourofcode

khanIf you haven’t heard of Khan Academy, you need to treat yourself to a few minutes of exploring it. The philosophy of Khan Academy is simple: You can learn anything. Free videos explaining a host of topics are available via Khan Academy, and in the few years it’s existed, it’s become a major force in the educational world. The link posted above offers their 2015 Hour of Code options, and this link leads to their 2014 Hour of Code exercises. Note: These exercises involve true coding, not a drop and drag sample. They give you lots of guidance, but it doesn’t have the game vibe that Tynker and Hour of Code have.

Best of all, if you find that you enjoy coding–or you want to prep for a career change–Khan has many options for continuing your study…all for free!

Code Academy Hour of Code    https://www.codecademy.com/courses/hour-of-code-en/0/1

codeacademyIf you are serious about wanting to learn to code, you can do it at your own pace for free. Code Academy has amazing extensive resources to teach coding to all ages. Their Hour of Code activities are fun and can give you a sample of what they offer; their programs are solid enough that experienced programmers recommend the site as a good place to learn.

MIT App Inventor  http://appinventor.mit.edu/explore/hour-of-code.html

appinventor_0_0Want to develop the next big Android app? The MIT App Inventor may be the tool you need! The Hour of Code page has you design several apps following their directions, giving you the skills you need to begin designing your own creations. This has a considerable learning curve, but the Hour of Code gives you time to get started!

CodeHS https://codehs.com/

CodeHS is intended for classroom use. It offers full classes–many of them free–for classroom use. Paid subscriptions offer more perks and functionality, but the basic resources are more than enough to get you coding!

Want Even More?

Some of the resources above offer training that extends well beyond an hour. If you’d like to see even more places that you can develop computer coding skills, look at https://code.org/learn/beyond

More info about computer coding

  • “First, it needs to be said that programming is not some black art, something arcane that only the learned few may ever attempt. It is a method of communication whereby a person tells a computer what, exactly, they want it to do. Computers are picky and stupid, but they will indeed do exactly as they are told. Therefore, each program you write should be like an elegant recipe that anyone—including a computer—can follow. Ideally, each step in a program should be clearly described and, if it is complicated, broken down into smaller steps to remove all doubt about what is to happen.  Programming is about problem solving and thinking in a methodical manner. Like many other disciplines, it requires someone to be able to look at a complex problem and start whittling away at it, solving easier pieces first until the whole thing is tackled. It is this whittling away, this identification of smaller challenges and developing solutions to them, that requires the real talent—and creativity. If you go out to solve a problem, or create a program no one has ever done before, all the book knowledge in the world won’t give you the answer. A creative mind might.”     From Programming for All by Matt Ford 
  • There are many programming languages. Here’s a brief intro to a few of the most popular.
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Ada Lovelace, Daughter of Lord Byron and computer coder.

  • If your image of computer programmers is a geeky male, here’s a bit of history you need to know: the daughter of romantic poet Lord Byron was arguably the first computer programmer, and a host of females followed her. This article from NPR introduces a few of them.
  • Only 2% of game developers are African-American. That stat and others from an article in Black Enterprise discusses the scarcity of African-Americans in tech fields, and explains why coding could be the key to success for minorities.
  • Want a job that pays well and has excellent grow potential? Consider programming! U.S News and World Report says it’s a field still in its infancy with huge growth to come. The  Occupational Outlook Handout that’s put out by the U.S government echoes the potential of programming as a career.
  • Want to see what the code for a website looks like? If you’re using the Chrome browser, Click Ctrl and U. For most pages, the source code will appear. If you are not using Chrome, this article can give you directions for seeing the magic making the website work.