Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Education

December 19, 2013

A 'code' for life

AHS students dabble in computer programming

For many Andover High School students, a global effort to get kids writing computer code proved more than a reprieve from the rigors of their typical daily syllabus. It was a chance to dabble in what one student called “a life skill” for today’s youths.

Last week, 60 classes at Andover High participated in an “Hour of Code,” an initiative organized as part of Computer Science Education Week.

Throughout the school, students in English, math and even physical education classes were working in environments with names like Java and Python — two popular computer programming and scripting languages.

Many of the students were using drag-and-drop instructions to tell programs what to do. Others were writing straight code.

Angela Vu, a freshman, worked with the Python computer language to set up a “jump” instruction for an on-screen character.

“You have to tell the computer how to do it,” she said.

Angela said even a base level of familiarity with writing computer code will become helpful in the future.

“If you’re on a team and have to explain to a programmer what you have to do, having that understanding improves so much,” she said. “You’re a better communicator.”

In another classroom, enriched algebra teacher Krista Lambroukos watched as a couple dozen USB-powered “finch” robots buzzed around on computer benches and the floor.

“Now here’s a challenge,” she told her students, who were using a computer in the class for the first time. “Can you make it move in a square?”

Molly Rocca, a sophomore, proceeded to send instructions to two wheels on the front of one of the robots. Mismatching the power levels of the wheels would cause the robot to turn or change direction while in motion.

Molly said programming has become an important life skill for every high-schooler.

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