Coding offers students new opportunities

Coding offers students new opportunities

Meg Ronan, Reporter

Every day, every student in every grade here at Big Spring encounters and uses technology to enhance the learning process. Many of them, however, do not know the science behind the technology that they so heavily rely on.  Bill August, principal, and Denise Mancuso, librarian, are trying to increase the number of kids that understand the work that goes into making web pages run by bringing Hour of Code to the high school.  “An Hour of Code is a national program where experts in the field of computer science and coding are trying to get young people excited about and interested in and to know more about coding or computer programs,” said August.  “Coding is a critical skill, and that’s really kind of the point of Hour of Code is to get everyone to understand how coding and being able to program computers rather than just use them is a skill that people are going to need.”  

August wants kids not only to get involved with the Hour of Code, but aspects of computers and programming, especially girls.  “My druthers would be that we have some females come into the coding and some girls consider this as an option because the programming world is dominated by males and they’re constantly looking for more females to get into this field,” he said.  This hope however, does not match up with the actions that were taken shortly before this school year started.  Anna Sweger, a senior here at the high school, said she was denied the option of taking AP Computer Science as an independent study.  “Over the summer I took an online class called ‘Intro to Java Programming’ because at the end of the school year when scheduling my classes I had signed up for AP Computer Science to take as an independent study.  I have always been interested in programming and wanted to start working on it prior to the class, and I figured that completing all that before hand would help with the class and help me to get a good score on the AP Test.”  After working over the summer on the program and completing extra coding activities including Hour of Code online, Sweger was informed right before the school year started that she would no longer be able to take the AP course.  “I was told that I was not able to do an independent study on AP Computer Science which was a huge disappointment to me.  I went through the whole summer looking forward to that class and it was the only class this year I was looking forward to having and then it got cancelled.”  When she met with her counselor to discuss the reasons why this was not going to happen, she was told that there would not be a teacher to teach her independent study course.  “In past years there has been an actual AP Computer Science class that was not an independent study that was taught by Mr. Chapman, but when he left everything seemed to fall through with that entire class.

August, who spoke with counseling staff, says that the reason for the loss of the class was a matter of personnel/staff.  He said, like Sweger, that “Our expert in teaching computer science left the district last year.  Unfortunately for Anna as a senior, this complicated her situation.”  From this situation, however, August makes two suggestions.  First, he said that this is a perfect situation highlighting the need to have more learning about coding and programming.  Secondly, he said that “Coding is something that can be be learned independently and Hour of Code helps to make that point.  Many of the best coders in the world have learned the most from diving in on their own.”

For those students who wish to do this, they can sign up for the activity in the library during Flex Time for the last two days it is available, Thursday and Friday.