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Middle School Marks Computer Science Week with Hour of Code

Students in Ms. Hanes’s advisory watch the school-produced video before getting started on their coding activities.

As a division, the Middle School put their growth mindsets in action earlier this week when students and teachers participated in the Hour of Code, a part of international Computer Science Education Week that introduces students to coding through engaging activities in a low-pressure environment. 

“The goal is really just to expose all of our students to coding,” Middle School Computer Science teacher Amie McCall said. “I know some students are afraid to even try it because they think it’s hard. I think it helped students be less intimidated by knowing the whole division was doing the same thing.”

To start the week, students watched a video featuring the creators of many popular sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Dropbox, showcasing how these individuals got started in coding. The Hour of Code, held during advisory lunch on Tuesday, also kicked off with a video, hosted by McCall, in which her students — along with NBA superstar Steph Curry and former President Barack Obama — talked about the many benefits of learning to code. 

Obama’s parting message: “Don’t just consume things — create things!”

Middle School CS I and II students who participated in the video echoed that sentiment. 

Students work at their own pace to solve a series of coding challenges including bringing Minecraft characters on an aquatic adventure and customizing their own version of Flappy Bird.

“What I’ve enjoyed about this class is being able to create my own games,” Aidan King ’26 said. “I just thought that was really interesting.”

“I can actually bring things to life,” Luke Davis ’27 added.

Tristan Beckett ’26 encouraged his fellow Middle Schoolers to try computer science now. “If you want to learn about coding, you should start now so you can learn all the basics and then move up to more challenging stuff,” he said. 

Maya Sullivan ’27 said she likes that coding is an ongoing process. “Just because you mess up on one thing doesn’t mean you’re bad at coding,” she advised. “You have to start somewhere when you’re coding, and just because one little slip messes you up, it doesn’t mean your career is done.”

For McCall, helping students understand that it’s OK to fail is really important.

“By failing, students start to develop that computational thinking — problem solving — to find out where they went wrong and fix the ‘bug,’” she said. “It shows students what they can do instead of always thinking they can’t.”

Middle School counselor Merritt Cole provided the lessons for advisories at each grade level. The self-paced activities included a game called “Chase the Pizza” and a “Frozen”-inspired challenge, “Code with Anna & Elsa.”

Screenshots from “Code with Anna & Elsa” show how students are drawn into the world of coding with fun and engaging challenges.

“Based on feedback I received as I went room to room, students and teachers thought it was going really well. The teachers were very impressed that most, if not all, students were engaged,” McCall said. “I would like to give a shout-out to my students. CS I students floated between all 26 advisories to offer support if students had coding questions, and my CS II kids stepped up to help fill in the gaps.”

McCall added that she hopes next year’s Week of Code can offer even more opportunities for Middle School students to engage with and explore the field.

“I think it’s extremely important for students to start coding early,” she said. “Studies have shown that learning to code is like learning a new language or learning to read: the sooner the better.”

Screenshots from “Chase the Pizza”