Engineering Students Help Introduce Kids to ProgrammingWednesday, December 18, 2013
University of Arkansas volunteers helping kids learn to code. Clockwise from upper left: Matthew Patitz, Jacob Hendricks, Nicholas Earhart, Garrett Troy, Jordan Collins, Hayley Archer.
On Dec. 12, 33 computer science and computer engineering students volunteered at Happy Hollow Elementary school, helping the elementary school students learn to write computer code. Happy Hollow participated in the Hour of Code program as part of Computer Science Education Week. This program is sponsored by Code.org, a national organization that promotes computer science.
Matthew Patitz, assistant professor of computer science and computer engineering, explained why learning basic computer science is important for all students. “Computer science is very pervasive. It’s important for people to realize what computer science is and how it impacts a variety of industries. Even if they're not going to be computer scientists, students need to have some understanding of computers so they aren't just black boxes.”
Throughout the school day, Happy Hollow students in every grade visited one of three computer labs and spent an hour playing games and completing tutorials designed to introduce computer programming concepts to students of all ages. The U of A volunteers walked around the labs, answering questions and encouraging the students.
“We are so grateful to the university volunteers,” said Angela Evans, technology integration specialist at Happy Hollow. “We couldn’t have done this without them.”
In recognition of their dedication to Computer Science Education Week, Happy Hollow Elementary has received a $10,000 grant from Code.org, which they will use to equip a mobile computer science education unit called “The Creation Station.” Evans hopes that the school will continue to work with the computer science and computer engineering department as they make use of this new teaching tool.
Hayley Archer, one of the U of A volunteers, addressed the students at their morning assembly, explaining the Hour of Code program and sharing her experience as a computer engineering student. “I wish there had been a program like Hour of Code when I was in elementary school, which is why I am so glad Happy Hallow invited us to help with their Hour of Code program,” she said. “The Happy Hollow students thoroughly enjoyed it, and my classmates and I are hoping to have future opportunities to do things like this again. It was such a great experience for all both the elementary students as well as the college students that volunteered!”
Camilla Medders, Director of Communications
College of Engineering