PNW BOCES Students Try Computer Coding

December 07, 2017

It seemed more like a game than a lesson to a group of Walden School students hunched over computers creating their own “Flappy Bird” game. But as the students used simple “drop and drag” programming to change how quickly Flappy Bird moved, they also were seeing how code controls computers.

Students in several Walden classes, along with students at Fox Meadow Middle School, are participating this week in the fifth annual Hour of Code – a global project that has encouraged millions of students and nonprofessionals to try out computer programming. The one-hour introduction to coding takes place every year during Computer Science Education Week in early December.
“We want students to realize they can be creators on the computer as well as consumers,” said Dr. Jennifer Harriton-Wilson, the education technology coordinator at PNW BOCES.

This year, appropriate Walden and Pines Bridge classes have been visiting the computer lab in the library weekly to gain exposure to keyboarding, digital citizenship and coding.  The Hour of Code project jived with that effort, showing students how simple commands for the popular Flappy Bird game could be fitted together like puzzle pieces to change game sounds, the bird’s actions or even its appearance. By using one command, the Walden students could change Flappy Bird into Flappy Shark or Flappy Santa.

Educational Technology Assistant Pamela Doran said the simple coding exercises supplied by Code.Org were designed to encourage students to think about how games and software are developed rather than simply use applications already on their computers.  “It helps them start to understand that a computer can be used as an expression of self,” she said.

For the Walden students quickly mastering the Flappy Game coding puzzles, however, it also seemed like a fun way to learn. 

“I think it was cool,” said Violet Taylor, “It was really fun.”  

Photo: Walden students customize a Flappy Bird game during the Hour of Code.