WiCS' "Hour of Code" Teaches Middle Schoolers Coding Skills

Stony Brook’s Women in Computer Science(WiCS) invited 43 middle schoolersfor Hour of Code global event, which takes place during Computer Science Education Week, where people are introduced to computer science.

WiCS worked with Stony Brook’s Director of Community Relations Joan Dickinson to bring the middle schoolers on campus for a school day. In addition to the hour of coding that WiCS led, the middle schoolers toured Stony Brook’s campus. Marybeth Robinette, Director of Instructional Technology from Finley Middle School stated, “It was so important for these students to be exposed to a college campus. Not only does it reinforce the importance of learning, but it also broadens their perspectives on what college life is about and puts it within their reach.”

The students were introduced to block coding with the Minecraft tutorial, Minecraft Voyage Aquatic. In that tutorial,students use for loops, while loops, and if statements on their quest to find underwater treasures. Amelia Creedon, School Media Specialist from Pulaski Street School, said, “I love that we are doing coding in our schools, and the students get to see the validation in the work we’re doing. It ties everything together.”

This was the second year that WiCS hosted Hour of Code. Five mentors, ranging from Computer Science sophomores to a graduate student doing research at Stony Brook’s Computer Vision Lab, worked with the middle school students.

“It is always good to see young students interested in coding and attending events that allow them to learn more about it. And it is great to see that their schools provide them the opportunities to do so, as well,” said Katheryn Martinez, a student mentor and junior majoring in Computer Science.

Anna Zhang, a junior student mentor majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Digital Art, commented on the students’ teamwork, “Some of the kids who knew what they were doing were helping their neighbors if they had any problems. Others tried to figure the problem out together, and I think that’s a very important skill to develop: Learning to work with others instead of just sitting there and glaring at the computer screen for hours.”

WiCS’ hope is that Hour of Code inspires students to learn the basics of computer science at an early age and that it encourages them to learn more about computer science in the future.

-- Regina Wong, WiCS Event Committee Member

wicsatcs.stonybrook.edu (Regina Wong) is a second-year Computer Science and Applied Mathematics and Statistics student and a Teaching Assistant for CSE 215.02. She is one of the event committee members of WiCS. This summer she will intern at Morgan Stanley as a Technology Summer Analyst.