OUR SCHOOLS:  Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy Hosts Hartford’s Participation in the National Hour of Code

OUR SCHOOLS: Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy Hosts Hartford’s Participation in the National Hour of Code

On Monday December 5th, 2016 the Connecticut Commissioner of Education, Diana Roberge-Wentzell came to Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy for the Hour of Code to kick off Hartford’s participation in this worldwide event and Computer Science Education week (Dec 5 – 11, 2016.)  4th and 5th grade students from Capital Preparatory Magnet School, and 3rd grade students from Breakthrough Magnet School South joined the HMTCA students who acted as student-teachers guiding the youngsters through the coding activity from https://code.org/learn; the Moana tutorial. The entire HMTCA high school also participated.

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Parent Denise Davis, teacher Jim Veseskis, and Commissioner Roberge-Wentzell learn coding from the 7th grade students.

Guests were welcomed by Lego Mindstorm robots and the high school students who built them.  The morning event began with brief statements by Principal Sally Biggs, Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Acting Superintendent of Hartford Public Schools, Dr. Dianna Roberge-Wentzell, Commissioner of Education (CSDE), Dr. Sandra Inga, STEM Director, Hartford Public Schools, James Veseskis, Project Manager ECS; Computer Science Teacher (HMTCA) and Dr. Ralph Morelli, Principal Investigator Mobile CSP, Trinity College.  Also in attendance was Alex Vance of the Vance Foundation whose generosity helped make the event possible.

The group watched a video about the HMTCA student invented app, “Say Something” and then the Hour of Code was begun at the secondary Level, the middle school level and the elementary school level.  In addition, 7th grade students taught visiting adults (teachers, parents and administrators) how to use the Moana app.

Commissioner Wentzel was wowed by how far and how quickly the very young students were able to move through the coding steps.  11th grade HMTCA students impressed Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez and Dr. Ralph Morelli with the depth of their knowledge about coding and apps, and about how their exposure to technology at HMTCA changed their life paths.

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HMTCA students helped to teach 4th and 5th grade students from Capital Prep and 3rd graders from Breakthrough Magnet South.  Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Acting Superintendent learned coding as well.

In her recent, Change the Equation blog, Liana Heitin noted that although advocacy for teaching computer science to K-12 students has grown rapidly in recent years with educators, state and local policy makers, and even the president making their voices heard on the matter.  National data shows that just 22 percent of 12th graders say they’ve ever taken a computer science course. And more than half of seniors attend high schools that don’t even offer computer science.

According to Jane Margolis’ book,  In the Shallow End: Education, Race and Computing, for urban students, the data is even more disturbing, with low income, Latino, Black and Native American students much less likely than Asian and white students to attend high schools even offering the subject.

Sandra Inga, Ph.D., Hartford Public Schools Director of S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math), preK-12, reflects, “The Hour of Code event is a global movement, including millions of students in more than 180 countries, speaking over 45 languages – with students from ages 4 – 104.  This is why Hartford Public Schools is so excited to again participate in this international coding event. The Hour of Code is so important, because it provides an opportunity to engage students in coding, which is the wave of the future in this very Digital Age. It is critical for our students learn coding, as more than 60% of future jobs will entail some knowledge of coding.  As the STEM Director for HPS, I have signed the coding pledge. I am hoping that this infection will take hold and others will also catch the coding fever! Please join me in signing the pledge: CSforAll K12 School Pledge!”

The White House includes Hartford Public Schools in its statement about the schools and districts nationwide that are taking immediate steps to implement new CS programs or expand offerings in 2017 to bring CS to over 65,000 new students in 11 states.