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Hour of Code comes to TFA

Computers are everywhere, and are changing every industry around the world. But fewer than half of all schools teach computer science. Good news, The First Academy is on our way to change this! If you’ve heard about the Hour of Code before, you might know it made history. This year with the help of The First Academy, Hour of Code hit the 500 million student mark. TFA had over 400 students participate in this global movement.

Since the start of the Hour of Code, the Hour of Code has been featured on Google, MSN, Yahoo!, and Disney. Hour of Code has well over 100 partners supporting this initiative. Every Apple Store in the world has hosted an Hour of Code, and leaders like President of the United States and the Canadian Prime Minister wrote their first lines of code as part of this campaign two years ago.

At The First Academy, the Hour of Code was open to everybody who wanted to participate. Students from K4-8th participated in this year’s Hour of Code initiative. The TFA Genius Bar helped introduce the K4 classes to the Hour of Code. K-1 and 3rd Grade experienced Code.org, 4th-8th Grade worked with Apple’s Swift Playgrounds.  There were even rumors that the 8th grade teachers participated in the Hour of Code on Swift Playgrounds too!

As of this blog posting, 10% of the world’s students and 25% of the students in the United States have experienced Hour of Code.  National polls state that over 93% of parents want their students’ school to teach computer science, but only 40% of schools actually do. In the state of Florida, 241 (22%) schools with an AP Program offered AP Computer Science.  The First Academy is proud to be one of those 241 schools. Our AP Computer Science class has had 44 students enroll over the past 3 years with 30% of the students being female.

Whether students and teachers used Hour of Code through Code.org or Apple’s Swift Playgrounds, they were introduced to basic coding concepts that all coding logic uses. Here at The First Academy, students are formally introduced to coding in 3rd grade by using Code.org. They have their own accounts to keep track of their progress and development.  Both programs are completely free and allow students to progress at their own pace while having fun.

Why do we use Code.org and Swift Playgrounds? Code.org is a non-profit organization that has the backing of just about every major computer programming company.  They have worked to develop their own courses and train as many people as possible.  They have the commitment to keep this valuable resource free.

Most apps in the Apple App Store are created from a program called Xcode.  To understand and develop an app in Xcode, students go through Swift Playgrounds to learn the basics of Swift coding. In 4th Grade, students are exposed to Swift Playgrounds to start the this process.

In the 4th-6th Grade, Spheros allow students to see the fruits of their coding.  They code the robot to navigate obstacles and draw patterns based on the code.

This process also allows students to experiences hands-on learning with physical aspects and not just on an iPad. Many factors go into coding a Sphero that detail many science concepts.

Not only is TFA meeting the needs of students, we are exposing our students to another career path.  The more students get exposed to computer science, the more likely that they will choose that as a career path and fill the thousands of empty jobs that are created each year.  Who knows, we may have the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs in our midst.

For more information please take a look at this FL Computer Science stat sheet (PDF).

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