By Christopher Roberson
The second, third and fourth grade students at Huckleberry Hill and Summer Street Elementary Schools recently took a break from their usual curriculum to participate in the district’s fourth annual Hour of Code.
Sarah Perkins, the digital teaching coach for the Lynnfield Public Schools, said the team at Code.org, which sponsors the Hour of Code, has tailored the computer science event in a way that captures young minds. Perkins said the themes from “Star Wars,” “Frozen” and “The Grinch” are embedded into the block coding to make it more like a game.
“They’re hitting the kids right where their interest level is. This is highly engaging,” she said during this year’s Hour of Code, which was held on Dec. 6.
As in prior years, Perkins said, a group of students from Lynnfield High School were on hand to assist the elementary school students. Although the two groups are separated by nearly a decade, Perkins said, there is still an “awesome community connection” between the younger students and their older counterparts. “It’s far more beneficial for them to learn from a peer,” she said.
Perkins also spoke about how computer science continues to affect the job market. “A lot of the jobs that these kids will have, haven’t even been created yet,” she said.
However, the demand for computer science professionals continues to grow. According to Code.org, there are 19,479 computer science jobs available in Massachusetts that pay an average of $103,278 per year – $41,168 more than the state’s average salary in other professions. Yet, there are only 1,953 individuals in the Commonwealth who hold degrees in computer science.
In addition, Perkins said there is currently one computer science section at the high school. She said that during the last course selection, 90 students submitted requests to take computer science and 24 of them were chosen.
Sophomore Nicholas Orlando, who volunteered to assist at Summer Street, said he was one of those 90 students. “I tried to get into it this year and I couldn’t,” he said. “The foundation is computer science; it’s in very high demand.”
Code.org launched the first Hour of Code in 2013. Since then the event has been held during Computer Science Education Week, which runs from Dec. 3-9. The last day of Computer Science Week honors the birthday of the late Grace Hopper, a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy and one of the nation’s first computer programmers.