Satisfied that together they have coded a prize-winning song, Beth Ullmann’s music class made up of fifth graders at T.C. Martin Elementary School asked her to play the tune they created.
Using a series of horns sounding off at different intervals and in varying keys, Ullmann pushes play. “It’s the moment of truth,” she said.
The first notes start and the reaction is almost immediate.
“Turn it off,” students ask, some laughing at how bad it sounds. Back to the drawing board, or rather, the Smart board.
During an Hour of Code assignment, Ullmann’s students went up to the Smart board and stacked pieces of code, moving them with their fingers to create a song. Down the hall in Laura Liverman’s technology classroom, things were less raucous as students worked on coding Minecraft behind a keyboard, in front of a computer screen. Earphones firmly on, the students began building on tasks.
Hour of Code is a Code.org program that boosts access to computer science. It also aims to engage girls, underrepresented minorities and students on free and reduced meal plans in the field. MacKenna Zopelis, a fifth grader is not new to coding and it’s a skill she finds valuable. “Because it will help me later in life,” she said. “Especially in computer programming.”
It’s never too early to learn to code and Hour of Code is worldwide, reaching more than 100 million students, according to Code.org. Hour of Code is held Dec. 5 to 11 during Computer Science Education Week. Charles County Public Schools signed a partnership with Code.org in 2014 to infuse computer science and coding in several subjects for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
“Kids should learn to code because it’s kind of actually fun and you get to create cool games,” fifth grader Stuart Mackie-Smith said. “You can program machines to do things for you. And if you get far enough, you may even be able to program robots to do things you want to do.”
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,400 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.