CVLCC 11th Graders Demo Video Game ‘Coding’ to 8th Graders

Event promotes ‘Hour of Code’ during Computer Science Education Week

Video games like Asteroids, Frogger and Pac Man might be better known to their parents’ generation. But for 44 eleventh grade students from Chula Vista Learning Community Charter (CVLCC) School, the classic arcade games served as a great introduction to coding. The students programmed their own versions of the video games as part of a UCSD Extended Studies class.

The high school students recently provided a demonstration of the code behind such video games to their middle school counterparts. The demo, billed as the “Hour of Code,” was part of this year’s Computer Science Education Week (December 8-14). Hour of Code is a movement to recruit millions of students to try one hour of computer science. Code is the language you type into a computer to tell it what to do. President Obama kicked off the week’s activities with a call to motivate students worldwide to try the Hour of Code, even promoting the event via a YouTube video.

For 11th grader Sandra Loya-Estrada, coding was long and tedious work. Sandra and her project teammate worked on creating a Pac Man game. For Cyanne Fairley, it was Frogger. For Jonathan Taraz, it was Asteroids. “It’s like a really old game,” Jonathan said. “My friend has done coding like this, so he has showed it to me before. I liked experiencing it, but I don’t think this will be my career interest.”

The course at UCSD did help de-mystify computer science and show anyone can do it. And while coding can be a lengthy process, for CVLCC students, it was literally like learning one more language. CVLCC is the District’s only school-wide dual language immersion campus. Students are literate in two languages, English and Spanish. Some know a third language, Mandarin. Most viewed coding as one more language.

“This is part of our commitment to prepare our students for the technological demands of the 21st Century,” said Magda Maldonado, CVLCC High School Common Core Instructional Coach. “One of our Board members had told us of the week of coding events, and I thought ‘Oh my God, this fits exactly what we are doing.’ We had just finished our (high school) projects at UCSD. So we brought the students here to the middle school. It is just incredible, how articulate the high school students are in explaining how coding works and what their projects taught them.”

The nonprofit organization Code.org® promoted its “Hour of Code” initiative for this year’s Computer Science Education Week. Launched in 2013, Code.org® is a non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. The organization’s vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science.

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