Cracking the Code at Oak Knoll for Computer Science Education Week

Boys and small robotDuring the week of December 5-9, 2022, Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child joined schools from around the world to celebrate Computer Science Education Week or CSEdWeek. This special week was founded to raise awareness about the need to elevate computer science education at all levels and to underscore the critical role of computing in all careers,” according to the CSEdWeek website. It takes place in this particular week to honor the birthday of Grace Hopper – who invented the first compiler and coined the term “bug” in the 1950s.

Oak Knoll School places an extremely high value on technology integration at all grade levels, and the Lower School celebrated the week with special activities each day in the Ideas Lab maker-space. With computer science jobs abounding and experienced computer programmers at a premium, Oak Knoll recognizes that a well-rounded curriculum must introduce all students to the experience of coding and programming. 

On Monday, pre-K students learned basic coding concepts using Scratch Jr. to create a computer graphic Christmas scene. “Though we are using the basic version of Scratch, it is a tool you can use all the way to college level,” explained Kimberly Connolly, Associate Director of Technology, Innovation, and Integration. Later in the day, she tasked grade 1 students with a snowball challenge, asking them to program Dash Robots to shovel paper snowballs at targets to obtain points. 

On Tuesday, grade 3 students had fun with the Sphero Coding Robots. Using a special 3D printed sleigh with an orbital frontispiece, their challenge was to program Sphero with just enough force to propel the sleigh forward from within the orb. Later in the day, grade 2 utilized the skills they are learning from the Hopscotch Coding App to write a set of instructions to guide a classmate across an actual physical board coded on the floor containing instructions for directional movement and physical actions.

On Wednesday, kindergarten students broke out the adorable Bee Bots and took turns coding them to traverse a grid to land on a particular symbol or number rolled on a fuzzy die. Some students continued to practice skills on the Kodable App to earn rewards. Grade 3 students got into the holiday spirit working in teams to program Dash using the endless loop command to dance to Christmas music. Prior to the dance off, each team decorated Dash with Christmas attire.

On Thursday, grade 5 students cranked up the Christmas tunes and dressed up their Dash robots for a fashion show. They built a runway and programmed Dash to model their couture. Grade 6 explored concepts related to equity and inclusion. They used code to solve challenges relating to spectators of varying heights peering over a wall to watch a football game.

All in all, CSEdWeek was an excellent opportunity to hone existing coding skills, learn new computer science skills and have a whole lot of fun in the process. Research shows that when students are consistently exposed to computer science classes, they name it as one of their top three favorite subjects alongside art and dance.

For a series of audio postcards from CSEdWeek and other podcasts from Oak Knoll, visit our Happy Kids Project podcast.

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