Somerville Holds Second Consecutive District-Wide Hour of Code Computer Science Event


Secretary Peyser, Mayor Curtatone, Superintendent Skipper help kick off week-long

Somerville Hour of Code 2015 with special event at East Somerville Community School


Somerville, MA – On Monday morning, December 7th, students, educators, and volunteers across the world will be launching into a week-long exploration into the world of computer science when the annual Hour of Code event kicks off. In Somerville, Massachusetts Secretary of Education Jim Peyser, Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, Somerville Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper, and representatives from the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council Education Foundation (MassTLC EF) will be joining students at the East Somerville Community School at 9:45 a.m. to help kick off the district’s second consecutive district-wide Somerville Hour of Code event.


Thanks to the commitment of co-event coordinators Charlie LaFauci and Shawn Stzurma, along with SHS Math Department Chair Marie Foreman, the entire team of Math teachers at Somerville High School, Library Media Specialists and teachers throughout the District, and approximately 200 community volunteers, every one of Somerville’s 4,900+ students will have the opportunity to learn the basics (and more) of computer science during this Computer Science Week event. LaFauci, the district’s Director of Library/Media Services and Stzurma, parent of a Brown School student and Director of Financial Services Solutions at Pegasystems are recreating an event they launched last year that provides every student in the district the opportunity to log at least one hour of computer coding during the school day during Computer Science Week (December 7-13), joining millions of students world-wide on this annual coding adventure.


“Charlie and Shawn have done an incredible job of putting together an event that not only gives students an opportunity to be part of a worldwide movement, but one that inspires every student to explore and go beyond their comfort zone every day,” stated Somerville Superintendent of Schools Mary Skipper. “The Somerville Hour of Code event is a coordinated effort to teach students the basics of computer science. More importantly, though, through this week-long event students learn how computer science impacts their everyday lives and how they have the ability to play a key role in shaping their futures.”


Charlie and Shawn were the recipients of the MassTLC Distinguished Leadership Awards, and their partnership shows the power of business volunteers and educators working toward the same goal. Other businesses continue to support computer science education, in Somerville and statewide. At Monday’s event, the Verizon Foundation will announce a $25,000 grant to support the MassTLC Education Foundation’s work to encourage all students throughout the Commonwealth, and in particular girls, to have access to a strong computer science education.


Somerville’s week-long Hour of Code event is one of more than 168,000 events happening around the world during Computer Science Education Week. In Massachusetts alone, more than 1,200 Hour of Code events have been registered. While the event provides students with a basic introduction of computer science programming in one hour of coding activity during a week-long period, Hour of Code is designed to help students develop problem-solving and logic skills through a creative, interactive, and engaging activity that will inspire a lifelong interest in computer science.


“In Somerville, we pride ourselves on providing top-notch education, and educational experiences that will not only better our students inside the classroom but also provide them with access to tools, resources, and opportunities that will give them a solid foundation for their future in an increasingly innovative and technology-focused society,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “These students will shape the world that we live in, and Hour of Code provides youth with a tremendous opportunity to broaden their horizons and increase computer science literacy. We are incredibly thankful for the many partners who help make this experience an exceptional one for our students.”


Volunteers are a critical player in ensuring that students’ experience during Hour of Code is a rich learning experience. Community and business volunteers will work with students and alongside teachers throughout the week, providing guidance as students delve into computer programming using a range of self-directed programs, including beginner programs such as Scratch Junior, Beebots, Hopscotch, Kodable, Angry Birds, Tynker, and Lightbot; intermediate programs such as Minecraft Hour of Code and Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with Code, along with Infinity Play Lab where students create a story or game starring Disney Infinity Characters and Scratch; and advanced programs such as Code Academy and Grok Learning. Somerville students will have the chance to work with volunteers representing a wide range of industries. They will also benefit from volunteer and sponsorship support from several of the area’s leading companies including Pegasystems, Winter Wyman, Hubspot, Microsoft, MIT, Education and the Verizon Foundation. will donate a Kindle Fire Tablet for each school to raffle, providing one student at every school the chance to win a Kindle Fire Tablet for their participation in Hour of Code.


Students will get a first-hand look at the role that computer science plays in helping shape the world around us as they learn and hone computer programming skills through drag and drop programming using game programs like Minecraft, to more advanced coding with programs such as Code Academy where students might write a program that animates their name. The week-long event is only the beginning for Somerville students as they continue to expand on what they learn during Hour of Code. Working with library/media instructors throughout the remainder of the year, students will use Hour of Code resources to continue building on their computer programming knowledge and skills.



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