LIHUE — The classroom full of ninth graders in Greg Anderson’s arts and communications class at Kauai High School are learning and having fun.
That’s what Hour of Code is all about.
This past week, schools around the nation participated in an hour of programming and coding as an introduction into the world of computer science and programming.
Kauai High School was one of the schools that participated on the Garden Isle, along with St. Catherine School, Kapaa High School, Kapaa Middle School, Kalaheo Elementary School, Hawaii Technology Academy and Waimea Canyon Middle School.
It’s a unique practice in the classroom, but Anderson believes high school students need to have this skill.
“If you look at the jobs and skills that employers are looking for now, there’s a huge area in computer science programming and computing that are being really under represented across the board,” Anderson said. “Hour of Code gives these kids an introduction to coding and they have fun doing it. If you watch them you’ll see that they’re 100 percent engaged, so it’s something that’s more interesting for them.”
Anderson is pleased his students can enjoy themselves while learning on their own instead of studying something they aren’t passionate about.
“If someone were to walk in right now, they’d say that they’re playing games and having fun but really, they have to work through all the logic,” Anderson said. “Computers are only as smart as what we tell them to do: You tell them to take two steps forward and they do. It’s easy to see when you make an error in these programs because you see the results immediately.”
Hour of Code is sponsored by Code.org, which has made coding more enjoyable through games and activities. One game in particular is from the Disney film, “Moana,” called “Wayfinding with Code.”
“You get to play games and learn how to use certain things to make different things and do things that you want them to do; it’s computer coding,” said ninth grader Sanoe Grijalva. “It teaches you how to do something while you’re playing a game.”
Providing students with the opportunity to learn more about computer science with Hour of Code is the step in the right direction, said Anderson, who sees a glaring need for Hawaii’s students to learn how to use this type of technology.
“Unfortunately, I think Hawaii in general, and even Kauai High School specifically, we don’t offer any computer science courses,” Anderson said. “So the kids really leave high school with little or no computer science background.”
Jayson Serrano, a ninth grader in Anderson’s class, wasn’t exposed to computer science before this week. He said the closest he’s ever gotten to programming or anything of the sort has came through video games.
But it’s been an experience that Serrano has thoroughly enjoyed and hopes to use these skills in the years to come.
“It’s generally pretty fun and challenging for us,” Serrano said. “This is a really good way for us to actually get started with coding and get exposed to it.”
As Anderson surveyed his classroom and watched his students, he admired their interest.
“It is just for this week, but it’s something that they (the students) can do anytime,” Anderson said. “And here’s the funny thing: take a look around. Nobody has their phones out, they’re engaged, they’re laughing and having a good time and from a teacher’s perspective, this is awesome because they’re doing something that they’re actually really interested in.”