More than 4,600 Students and Volunteers Participate in 2014 Somerville Hour of Code

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Somerville Public Schools students learn basics of computer programming in District-wide program, join millions world-wide in largest learning event in history

Somerville, MA – Computers and tablets were humming with programming activity in classrooms and school libraries throughout the District last week, as nearly every student in the Somerville Public Schools (SPS) participated in the Somerville Hour of Code event. An estimated 4,600 students throughout the district learned the basics of computer science during Computer Science Week (December 8-14), each logging at least one hour of computer coding during the week, thanks to the tireless efforts of more than 100 volunteers and district library/media teachers. These 4,600+ Somerville students are among the more than 76 million students world-wide who have tried at least one hour of code so far this year in a global learning event movement.

“The Hour of Code event gave students a chance to see first-hand how the use of technology, and computer programming in particular, directly impacts their lives,” said Charlie LaFauci, supervisor of Library/Media Services for the district. “Thanks to the fantastic support of community volunteers and partners like Shawn Szturma, who recruited more than 100 volunteers to be part of this event, students also gained an appreciation for how fun and creative computer science can be.”

“This was a terrific example of a community-wide effort that provided our students with a learning experience that connects them to the world around them,” added Superintendent of Schools Tony Pierantozzi. “The use of technology has transformed the way that people live and learn, and will continue to do so. Programs such as Hour of Code provide an opportunity for students to build 21st century skills and gain an understanding of how what they’re learning in school can impact their futures and their communities.”

Somerville’s week-long Hour of Code event was one of more than 77,000 events around the world to be held during Computer Science Education Week. While the event provides students with a basic introduction of computer science programming in one hour of coding activity during a hosted event, Hour of Code is designed to nurture problem-solving and logic skills through a creative, interactive, and engaging activity.

“Providing students with hands-on learning in science and technology is a critical factor in both helping them develop problem-solving skills and sparking their interest, and Hour of Code is a tremendous program that does just that,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “Students who become interested in programming today will shape the world that we live in tomorrow. We are grateful for all the volunteers who gave their time to give our students an experience that broadens their horizons and increases their computer science literacy.”

Volunteers worked with students as they explored computer programming using a range of self-directed programs, including beginner programs such as Angry Birds, Tynker, and Lightbot; intermediate programs including Code with Anna and Elsa and Scratch; and advanced programs such as Code Academy and Grok Learning. From drag and drop programming using game programs like Angry Birds, to more advanced coding with programs such as Code Academy where students could write a program that would animate their name, students got a first-hand look at the role that computer science plays in helping shape the world around us.

Somerville students will continue to expand on what they learned during the Hour of Code event, utilizing Hour of Code resources and working with library/media instructors to build on their computer programming knowledge and skills. For more information about the Hour of Code, visit http://www.hourofcode.org.

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Photo #1 – Superintendent of Schools Tony Pierantozzi and an East Somerville Community School student learning the basics of computer science during Somerville Hour of Code;
Photo #2 – Mayor Curtatone and an East Somerville Community School student learning the basics of computer science during Somerville Hour of Code;
Photo #3 – More than 100 volunteers supported Hour of Code activities throughout the District

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