To celebrate Computer Science Education Week, Hood College computer science faculty, along with undergraduate and graduate students, visited schools in the Frederick County Public School District to work with teachers and students during several Hour of Code school events Dec. 4-10.
They taught more than 600 students in 23 classes, which included business, foundations of technology, introduction to computer science, Microsoft certification and AP computer science. The lessons served three purposes: expose students to coding to demystify the idea that coding is difficult or scary; teach computational thinking, or composing problems and forming step-by-step solutions; and help try to decrease the gender gap in computer science.
Brunswick High School, Governor Thomas Johnson High School, Governor Thomas Johnson Middle School, Middletown High School, Oakdale High School and Walkersville High School welcomed Hood into their classrooms.
Hood computer science faculty members Carol Jim, William Crum, Ahmed Salem, Aijuan Dong, John Boon, Khalid Lateef and George Dimitoglou, along with undergraduate students Mickayla Bachar ’19, Karen Canas ’18 and Brandon Ubiera ’19 and graduate students Jeff Larson and Abdul Mir participated in the instruction.
John Yoho, a teacher in the information technology department at Brunswick High School, embraces CSEdWeek each year and was thrilled to have Dimitoglou and others from Hood in two of his classes.
“The students really took to the Hood staff and embraced the challenges of a day of coding, problem solving and creating,” he said. “It was a great opportunity for these students to see Hood representatives and opportunities that might be available for them in the coming years.
“I would love to have the Hood computer science department back to BHS anytime! In my opinion, our students were lucky to have this opportunity and grateful that Professor Dimitoglou and Hood were willing to share their expertise!”
Hood representatives visited 10 different business and technology classes at Walkersville High School where they explained the demand for computer science graduates in Maryland and provided several practical employment opportunities that required varying levels of education. The students were then provided with an activity that introduced them to Python, a common and basic coding language.
“The students were immediately engaged in the activity,” said David Heefner, who teaches career and technology education at Walkersville. “Students were excited to participate in computer science and coding. It is also good for the students to hear from a different source than their teacher that the computer science field reaches into many different areas such as manufacturing, automotive, appliances, etc. Overall, the students enjoyed the activities and suggested that this should be an annual event.”
At Governor Thomas Johnson Middle School, students learned the “whys and hows” of computer programming with a lesson on Code.org led by Crum. Governor TJ technology education teacher Joseph Daly said the class was fully engaged, and the lesson fit perfectly with where they are in programming right now.
Kathryn Zepp-Imhoff, a computer science and technology education teacher at Governor Thomas Johnson High School, said it was a good experience to have someone new in for the students to hear and see. She noted that some students who otherwise would not have been exposed to this content are now interested in computer science.
Dimitoglou said their lessons included business and different levels of computer science. The CS classes included the design and development of web pages to show the relationship between code and web page presentation, drawings fractals using coding to show how to create complex structures using data repetition, and more advanced coding for character behavior in games.
“We chose exercises where the code has an immediate, visible effect,” said Dimitoglou. “In all three parts, there were ‘Aha!’ moments. From there, many of them just ran with it.”
Hood coordinated all of the activities through the Frederick County Public Schools career and technology education coordinators, Kati Heefner and Norm McGaughey, and the FCPS career and technology education supervisor, Kristine H. Pearl.
“They were instrumental in getting this program to work,” said Dimitoglou.
CSEdWeek, also called Hour of Code Week, was supported by 350 partners and 100,000 educators worldwide. The week recognizes the birthday of computing pioneer Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (Dec. 9, 1906).
Admiral Hopper, Ph.D., was a pioneer computer scientist, often referred to by her nickname, “Amazing Grace,” due to the breadth of her scientific achievements and professional accomplishments. She visited Hood College a number of times in the 1970s, giving talks and inspiring women to pursue careers in the sciences. She received an honorary doctorate from Hood in 1983.
Today, the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing ( the world’s largest gathering of women technologists) and a U.S. Navy destroyer (the 500-foot, 7,000-ton USS Hopper) are named in her honor.