Hour of Code @ Sir Adam Beck JS

Students were eager to participate in Hour of Code during Computer Science Education Week at Sir Adam Beck JS! In just about every classroom on one day or another, you would find students engaged in coding using various platforms from Scratch to Tynker and LightBot to other coding activities made available to students from Code.org. A Big Thank you to every teacher who went out of his/her comfort zone to encourage students to code. Much was learned, and gained through this empowering experience. 

Why code? Not every student will end up with a career that involves professional coding. We code for different reasons, some obvious, and some not so obvious. Computational Thinking is the ‘buzz phrase’ for the philosophy behind coding in education. We encourage coding because coding helps to develop some crucial skills that lead to computational thinking. This kind of thinking can apply to just about every problem, simple, or complex, that we face in our modern world. When we encourage students to develop computational thinking skills we are asking them to perform logic, apply algorithms, decompose, recognize patterns, abstract and evaluate. These are skills that are easily transferred to STEM. These skills are often developed in collaborative environments and require ‘soft skills.’ Students are expected to persevere through various tasks, to collaborate, imagine solutions and use and develop creative thinking.  Again, skills that are required in every day living. 

At Sir Adam Beck we believe that the earlier we start to develop these skills the more likely the students will develop deep learning  in these skill areas. More and more research is showing that the earlier we expose children to these concepts – often taught in a STEM setting – the more likely they will become successful in those same subjects later in their more advanced school years. And perhaps more importantly, students develop a positive attitude towards science, math and engineering that stays with them in later years. 

We could go into great detail here about the benefits of coding in a young student’s school career, however, suffice it to say, coding is alive and well at Sir Adam Beck and will be for the foreseeable future! Currently, all grade 1-5 students are coding on a regular basis, and some kindergarten classes are beginning to introduce coding in simple ways as well. And this coding is being taught in the context of STEM. STEM education at Sir Adam Beck follows the principle that young children should be exposed to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Science in a cogent and powerful way. This exposure should introduce to them real-world scenarios in a setting where students are free to explore various problems from different angles in a supportive, encouraging environment. 

“Although young children often show great natural curiosity about the world and remarkable capacity to learn on their own, they need adult assistance to foster, guide, and build on their interests to ensure adequate early STEM experiences.”

Early STEM Matters. UCHICAGO STEM Education. January 2017. 

How can you help develop a positive attitude towards STEM at home? Every time you are out with your children you have an opportunity to engage them in discussions about STEM. Talk about buildings and their particular design, the weather and why it changes so quickly, or why we need green spaces in a city space. You can also develop positive discussions around math and science by assuring your children that these subject areas are NOT reserved for the few – skills in math and science are not innate. We can develop these skills by persevering, taking risks and learning from our failures. Do math and science together! There are many opportunities to engage your children in family time where everyone works together to solve a problem. It’s time well spent and it will pay dividends in the future!