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Students in Idaho and worldwide learn computer programming this week

By Emily Valla
Published On: Dec 10 2013 07:17:21 PM CST

Students in Idaho and worldwide learn computer programming this week

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -

A local school is full of student computer programmers, at least for this week. It is Computer Science Education Week. It is a global program backed by people and organizations big in the technology industry: Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Apple, Google, Microsoft and over 100 others.

Odyssey Charter School in Idaho Falls is one of many schools in east Idaho participating in the "Hour of Code." For sixty minutes, students will learn some of the basics of programming using things like the popular game, Angry Birds. The aim of the week is to get young students interested in building the programs of tomorrow.

"There is a huge amount of jobs available for people who know how to program, but we don't teach it in our schools. It is not in any curriculum that we have. So, they are trying to promote students learning how to code so that they can get their hands on it and get a feel for doing something like that," said Jessica Peterson, a technology teacher at Odyssey Charter School.

Peterson's class will be hands on with coding all week long. In her sixth grade class, she started the week off with a hands-on activity using plastic cups. One student is a "robot" and the other students in a group write out a code of arrows. Then, without speaking, the robot has to arrange the cups according to the code and key given.

Peterson's eighth grade class used basic programming to create greeting cards on the computer.

"It's actually like really, really fun, you get to build your own Christmas card and send it to people. You get to create your own characters and make them move and say hello and make cool backgrounds," said Carter, an eighth grade student.

As the week goes on, Peterson plans to move towards more complex activities.

"My goal is to get them (the students) to the point where they actually are seeing Javascript, HTML, C++ that they can go through and look through that code. They will start to understand what it means to write in an actual code," Peterson said.

For anyone, student or adult, who would like to try their hand at computer programming, code.org is offering their lessons for free this week. The instructions for activities the students participated in are detailed on that website.

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