This last December, we at Bio::Neos had the opportunity to participate in Computer Science Education Week for the second straight year and it was just as energizing as the first! Last year, everyone in the office signed up as volunteers on Code.org, but only I was engaged to volunteer at schools that were requesting help. This year... we decided to be a bit more proactive in our support.
My oldest daughter started first grade at Garner Elementary this fall. Now that she is getting older, and with Computer Science Education week approaching, I was curious whether her school was utilizing the volunteers from that organization. I have previously walked her through a few Hour of Code tutorials with great success, so I know it could be a positive experience for her age range, but I hadn't heard of any events at her school during CSEdWeek 2015 and didn't see her school on the map for 2016. Since I had such a positive experience volunteering for Computer Science Education Week in 2015, I decided to directly approach the principal of her school, Nick Proud.
I am happy to say, that small bit of initiative was extremely well received. CSEdWeek had not been on his radar before, but as soon as I mentioned it to Principal Proud, he almost immediately started to plan an event. In fact we got part way through a discussion before I even realized he was assuming I would participate. We were equally excited about the possibilities, so after the first discussion we both started running with the idea and had organized a full morning event before I could blink.
Through Principal Proud's amazing support, we were able to reach even more kids than I had expected! We setup a school visit for all of the 1st graders, 4th graders, and 6th graders in which we talked to them about computer science, programming, and technology in general before we walked them through an Hour of Code tutorials. It’s always mind blowing to see the excitement that these students (some as young as 6 years old) have for programming. These "Garner Gators" came up great questions and seemed surprisingly engaged and excited to learn more about computer science than we expected from kids their age!
Being there, not only watch them go through the Hour of Code exercises, but to help them learn and understand the basics of computer science, and more importantly, having fun while doing it was an extremely rewarding experience. Hearing their questions and seeing them piece together their first successful lines of code really makes you excited for the future.
We at Bio::Neos believe that giving kids a realistic, basic understanding of computer science early on in their education is extremely important because it’s everywhere behind the scenes in almost everything that we use in today's age. That's why we feel it is important for us to invest some of our time to enable events like CSEdWeek. Equally as important is the willingness of the Garner administration to support these initiatives. We really appreciate getting this opportunity to teach them the basics of creating the software that can power so many things around them. For a few, I think we might have even seen that moment that sparked the love of software development. I still fondly remember the day I fell in love with programming, and I hope that the hard work of volunteers and teachers that help provide these opportunities for exploration will generate some equally inspiring stories about how these kids first got interested in computer science.
Thanks to everyone who made another Computer Science Education Week a wonderful success!