‘Hour of Code’ comes to King Arts

Joan Andler’s 7th grade science students at Evanston’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Literary and Fine Arts School got a lot of help Friday from Northwestern University professors and District 65 administrators during their “Hour of Code” that concluded Computer Science Education Week.

Representing the university were Dr. Kemi Jona, director of the Office of STEM Education Partnerships, along with computer science professor Larry Birnbaum, who is the director of Northwestern’s Computer Science program, assisted by several graduate computer science students.

Joining them from the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 administration were Superintendent Paul Goren and STEM Director Jesch Reyes.

STEM is shorthand for science, technology, engineering, and math, which has recently become a prime focus of educators in Evanston and nationwide as the United States competes with countries such as China and India in developing scientific expertise among their young people.

Teacher Andler offers a helping hand to an eager science student.

The “Hour of Code,” in fact, is a worldwide event to enable students to try their hand at coding while showcasing the various ways computer science plays a role in their lives.

“Nearly every job these days involves computing,” says Jona, “so introducing students at a young age to coding is a great way to get them excited about pursuing this skill, both in and out of school.”

During the Hour of Code at King Arts, students could select from dozens of activities that range from developing apps or games to introductory lessons in JavaScript or other programming languages.

Jona, Goren, and Brown examine a student's coding efforts.

The visitors, who also included King Arts Principal Jeff Brown and district instructional technology coach Gary Cipinko, circulated Friday among the students, offering help and suggestions, as well as encouragement, to the young people, each of whom was equipped with a tablet computer.

The activity also highlighted the cooperation that regularly occurs between Northwestern University and both the elementary and middle schools of District 65 and Evanston Township High School.