The Hour of Code is a global movement by Computer Science Education Week and Code.org to teach students about coding and computer science. The event takes place during Computer Science Education Week, which is Dec. 9-15 this year.

Code.org has a database of free one-hour tutorials and activities that introduce students to coding and computer science. You can search for activities by grade level, subject area, comfort level with computers, and the type of classroom technology that’s available to your students, among other criteria.

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If you want to build on the momentum you’ve established with these initial Hour of Code tutorials, or you’re overwhelmed with the number of choices available through Code.org, here are five great options to consider in your school or classroom.

SAM Labs

SAM Labs takes a kinesthetic approach to teaching coding for students in grades K-8. SAM Labs classroom kits contain interactive electronic blocks that connect wirelessly to the SAM Space app, making abstract coding concepts more tangible for students.

Each block represents an input or an output, such as a motor, a light, or a light sensor. Students use the SAM Space app to connect the blocks together. For example, if they connect a light sensor and a motor, the motor will run faster as they shine more light on the sensor.

The SAM Space app allows for blocks to be coded together in a simple and intuitive way. Visual, flow-based drag-and-drop coding allows students to take their physical blocks, drop them into a virtual canvas, and connect them together to create projects.

For the Hour of Code, SAM Labs has released a free ebook, “Implementing a District-Wide Coding Program,” as well as free Learning to Code lessons that help students in grades 4-8 learn block-based coding in a virtual canvas called Workbench.

Nepris

Nepris is an online platform that connects students virtually with STEAM professionals, so students can learn firsthand about STEAM-related careers. They can also see how the concepts they’re learning in class are applied within real-world settings.

For this year’s Computer Science Education Week, Nepris has scheduled at least eight video chats with coding and computer science professionals. Students will have the opportunity to learn what it’s like to be a software engineer, what skills are required to do the job effectively, and more.

5 resources for the Hour of Code!

Students can take part in these discussions live, as they’re happening, enabling them to ask questions of the presenter—or they can view a recording of each event.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy offers video tutorials for teaching students ages eight and up how to program drawings using JavaScript by designing their own snowman, as well as how to make webpages with HTML tags and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), a web programming language. Students finish the web programming tutorial by making their own greeting card.

In addition, students ages 12 and up can learn how to manipulate data in a database and make their own custom store—and students who are interested can extend their learning with videos that show them how to use variables, make animations, store data in arrays and objects, group their code into functions, and more.

Minecraft

With more than 100 million registered users worldwide, Minecraft is a popular way to introduce students to coding and computer science.

Minecraft offers four basic coding tutorials for students in grades two and up. The tutorials are available free of charge and work with all “modern browsers and tablets,” Code.org says.

Schools using the educational version of Minecraft for Windows, Mac, and iPad devices also have access to a free Minecraft Hour of Code lesson that explores artificial intelligence (AI) in addition to basic coding concepts. The lesson, called “AI for Good,” challenges students to train a computer to identify what causes fires, remove materials that help fires spread, and then bring life back to a forest destroyed by fire—all with code. The lesson was inspired by Microsoft’s AI for Earth team, who use AI to help solve global environmental challenges.

CodeCombat

CodeCombat allows students to learn coding in a scaffolded environment as they program a computer game by typing actual Python and JavaScript commands into a browser window.

In CodeCombat’s 2019 Hour of Code activity, students progress through multiple game levels. At each level, students will be given some starter code. They must finish the code to have their character complete a certain task, then run the simulator to check their work (and make changes if needed). The activity culminates with students using everything they’ve learned to create their own game from scratch.

Dennis Pierce
About the Author:

Dennis Pierce is a freelance writer who has been reporting on education and technology for more than 20 years.


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