Tumwater students participate in global computer science event

Easyish and brain puzzling.

That’s how sixth-grader Kaleb Chester described the activities that he completed during Peter G. Schmidt Elementary School’s Hour of Code event on Monday.

The initiative is designed to give students around the globe an hour of computer science and programming experience during Computer Science Education Week, which runs through Sunday. The campaign is organized by code.org and is backed by technology giants such as Microsoft, Google and Facebook. Most of the activities are done in an online puzzle format with kid-friendly characters such as Angry Birds.

“It’s fun,” said Kaleb, 12, as he worked on a tutorial. “It’s kind of a challenge.”

After students solve a puzzle, they can find out how many lines of code they wrote, and see what the code looks like in a computer language.

The idea is to teach the concept of computer programming, without having to learn the syntax, or the computer language, that creates it, said volunteer Lorie Gillespie, a former programmer who is helping lead Peter G. Schmidt’s event.

“It’s teaching problem solving and analytical thinking,” she said. “These are skills that carry over in other subjects.”

Hour of Code was founded last year, and organizers set out the goal to reach 10 million students. Instead, 44 million students participated.

This year, organizers set out to reach 100 million students.

Several schools in Tumwater School District are participating, including Tumwater Hill and Black Lake elementary schools, said Heidi Seldomridge, a technology specialist at Peter G. Schmidt.

More than half of the projected jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics are in computing occupations, according to code.org. Hour of Code’s goal is to help spark future interest in those jobs and promote the importance of computer science education.

“They are trying to raise the next generation of programmers,” Gillespie said. “You’ve got millions of jobs that are going to be available to these kids.”