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Excelsior Academy hosts Hour of Code
Newburgh Free Academy - North campus Excelsior Academy has been offering an Hour of Code event for the last four years as part of a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries. The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify "code,” to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with 1-hour coding activities but expanding to all sorts of community efforts. The Hour of Code takes place each year during Computer Science Education Week. The 2017 Computer Science Education Week is December 4-10. Computer Science Education Week is held annually in recognition of the birthday of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906).
NFA North had several stations set up to teach students basic elements of coding as well as student led demonstrations that highlighted projects they’ve been working on in their classes and in extracurricular activities.
Grosvin Martinez, a junior offered a tour and description of the activities. Students and their families entered the event in Mr. Svarczkopf and Mrs. Doulin’s Computer Science classroom. Students and their families were challenged with coding games that included their favorite cartoon characters and Disney princesses.
The library hosted a variety of coding examples that ranged from basic elements of coding to more elaborate skill development. A station with 3D printing examples demonstrated the technology and programming involved in creating 3D materials from a computer image. An Arduino machine challenged students to program LED lights to change colors and design. The Robotics station featured a robot that the NFA North Robotics team has built and competes with on a yearly basis. Participants could play Scratch games that students made as project. This year they made Atari games like Break Out, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Frogger, and PacMan.
Mr. Martinez is currently enrolled in Excelsior Academy at NFA North with a focus on Cyber Security. He hopes to work for the Coast Guard and being able to do intellectual analysis. If not that, he hopes to work at mainframe kind of company like IBM for example and produce software for others to use.
Matthew Wasson and Kyle Villano, both sophomores or year 2 students in Excelsior Academy discussed the process of learning to code. “Developing the computer games took maybe a month and a half or so. The games that we say had better code moved more smoothly and were less “buggy.” Overall, this was really fun. It was one of our first introductions to block coding. Pong and Atari, then we had a project to animate our names, and then we kept progressing with that over different amounts of time to the level we’re at now, which is working with actual code outside of the block.”
Kyle Villano, a sophomore or year 2 in the program playfully argued with his mother letting her know, “you have to notice the pattern” in response to her exclamation that his version of Frogger was impossible to conquer.
“It was a lot harder to make than it would seem.” Anthony Grice, junior or year 3 in the program.
“Basic coding starts off with dashes and dots. This robot is much more complicated. It takes hours of coding this, just so it can move perfectly fine and smooth. We’ve also learned to adjust for the motors that we used. Some are older than others.”
George Huaqui, a sophomore or year 2 in Excelsior Academy and Leader of the building team for the Robotics Team
Dariyea Leach, a sophomore or year 2 in Excelsior Academy explained that “the Arduino station with circuit boards and code information to make the boards do certain things. The potentiometer makes it do something, so it can code to flash faster or slower or different colors.”
Cristina Martinez, a junior or year 3 in Excelsior Academy helped to check people into the event. “I want to be an Architect. I have always been surrounded by technology in my life. My parents work at IBM and other company in New York. I like technology because it's a unique way to help people out.”
“A perfect example of the evolution of the programs we offer in relation to technology is when a student who graduated from North came back and told me that he was sitting in class with his peers in college and they all had coding classes in high school and he said “I didn't have that at North and that gave them an advantage over me.” So, we added it and continue to discuss the progression of the program. Right now, every student at North will have at least one Computer Science class in coding, application, web design, or AP Principals of Computer Science in their curriculum. Right now, almost every period has computer science class happening.”
Mr. Matteo Doddo, Principal of NFA North
“Events like these should just be the beginning for students. With technology so pervasive in our society, it is imperative that students have a basic understanding of computers and how they work. The hour of code has provided us a fun forum to expose young students to computer science and hopefully spark their interest. It also is a way for our Excelsior Academy and NFA North students to show off their learning.” Mr. Kevin Rothman, Principal of Excelsior Academy
“Teaching students varied levels of computer science has been showing really positive results in Algebra 1 and Geometry in our students. I think these computer science courses help in the mathematics courses because students are developing the skills required to problem solve and plan sequences.” Mrs. Melissa Doulin, Computer Science/Mathematics teacher at NFA North
It helps them develop more spacial awareness, which is an element of these two subjects.” Mrs. Melissa Doulin, Computer Science Teacher at NFA North
The youngest student to participate was a Kindergartener from Fostertown Elementary. Throughout the event, it became difficult to determine if the K-12 students or their parents were having more fun interacting with the technology.
TEACHERS: Are you and your students doing something great? Please contact your Communication Strategist. We’d love to attend or post your pictures and recap to highlight the amazing accomplishments throughout our district! Grades PreK-5 Amanda McDowell (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Grades 6-12 Cassie Sklarz (email@example.com).