By Natalie Huang and Isabella Borkovic
In the first week of December, thousands of schools across the world participated in the Hour of Code, a coding initiative designed to expose students to computer science. This year, Monta Loma Elementary School teamed up with the club Computer Engineers of the Next Generation (CENG) to bring Hour of Code to all their 423 students for the first time. Monta Loma is located at Mountain View, California, the heart of Silicon Valley. It is also the alma mater of Steve Jobs.
CENG is a club comprised of 15 high school students from Los Altos High School that aims to encourage historically underrepresented minorities to pursue Computer Science by offering free after-school coding classes. The club teaches weekly coding classes at Monta Loma and Santa Rita Elementary School to 3rd-6th graders.
On Wednesday, December 5th, 11 CENG members held coding lessons for all K-5 classes for 50 minutes as part of Hour of Code. Students from K-2 worked on a Classic Maze game that incorporated popular video games like Angry Birds and Plants vs Zombies to teach students about the basic os coding through "drag-and-drop" commands, while upper grades developed problem-solving skills through the Minecraft Adventure game.
These activities were made accessible through code.org, which provides many other fun games to teach coding to younger kids. Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Cynthia Mixon felt that, "the Hour of Code was incredibly engaging and exciting for my Kindergarteners who are just learning how to use computers." Students enjoyed the fun introduction to coding and being challenged as they continued through different levels of the games. "I love coding because it takes a lot of thinking and it's fun, " said Rhi Nanavati, a first grader.
The CENG members didn't teach the class alone. They received help from 26 third to fifth grade Junior Mentors who are Monta Loma students that have taken coding classes held by the club. Junior Mentors received training on how to carry out Hour of Code and ask questions to lead students to the answers on their own. During the event, they assisted CENG members in teaching and guiding students. They were able to help students out one-on-one and use their own prior skills in coding to teach others. Aaron Nguy, a Junior Mentor, thought that "it was interesting and fun to teach the class." Aaron's mom, Betty Phan, felt that "it was a wonderful opportunity to develop students' mentoring skills at an early age. The [Junior Mentors] were so excited that they could do something good for other students."
Though students only had an hour to work on coding, many felt inspired to continue coding at home. According to the teacher coordinator for Hour of Code, Ms. Shelby Satterfield, "The kids were very excited to learn more about coding and some even asked their parents to use Code.org at home!" Holding Hour of Code gave students the unique hands-on chance to code, develop a passion for computer science, and mentor and teach other students. Michelle Zhu, a CENG mentor, stated that "teaching Hour of Code opened my eyes to how big of an impact our club could make on a community with just two hours of time, and we hope to improve the lives of students around us through CENG." Special thanks to AI4ALL for sponsoring the CENG programs. For more information, visit cengclass.org or contact us at email@example.com
Natalie Huang and Isabella Borkorvic are the Secretary and Treasurer of CENG. They are juniors at Los Altos High School.