Maine students participate in coding program designed to create interest in computer science

Posted Dec. 11, 2013, at 3:48 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 11, 2013, at 5:35 p.m.
From left, Katelyn Walsh, 13, and Abigail Hyson, 15, joined in the “Hour of Code” Wednesday morning where Hermon High School students were introduced to computer sciences at NESCOM and Husson University.
From left, Katelyn Walsh, 13, and Abigail Hyson, 15, joined in the “Hour of Code” Wednesday morning where Hermon High School students were introduced to computer sciences at NESCOM and Husson University. Buy Photo
Hermon High School Freshman Elise Sides, 14, joins in the &quotHour of Code" Wednesday morning at NESCOM. Husson University and NESCom both partook in  the “Hour of Code” where Hermon High School students were introduced to computer sciences.
Hermon High School Freshman Elise Sides, 14, joins in the "Hour of Code" Wednesday morning at NESCOM. Husson University and NESCom both partook in the “Hour of Code” where Hermon High School students were introduced to computer sciences. Buy Photo
Husson University and NESCom Joined in the “Hour of Code” Wednesday morning where Hermon High School students were introduced to computer sciences.
Husson University and NESCom Joined in the “Hour of Code” Wednesday morning where Hermon High School students were introduced to computer sciences. Buy Photo

BANGOR, Maine — A group of Hermon students joined thousands of their peers across the state in getting a brief glimpse into the deep realm and science of computer coding on Wednesday.

Laura Gurney, a faculty member at the New England School of Communications on the Husson University Campus, guided a group of high school students through brief tutorials on basic coding, JavaScript and more on Wednesday. On the other side of campus, Hermon middle school students tried their hands at the same exercises.

When she asked students whether any had worked with computer code, just two students in the room sheepishly raised their hands.

They were among more than 15,000 Maine students from Kennebunk to Madawaska who participated in the program, called the Hour of Code.

The effort lines up with Computer Science Education Week, which runs Dec. 9-15 and is aimed at getting kids interested in what makes computer programs, video games and cellphone applications work.

The hope is that those students will become engaged and look into potential careers in the computer science industry, or at least become curious enough to want to understand how their favorite websites and computer games work.

Gurney said she hoped the lessons would “make coding and using computers a lot less scary,” and show the fun behind it all.

According to the initiative’s website, csedweek.org, nearly 8 million people had taken an Hour of Code lesson by Wednesday afternoon.

“Maine’s kids are the future of our state, and it’s important we help them develop the critical computer science skills they’ll need to solve the complex challenges they’ll be confronted with,” Gov. Paul LePage said in an email promoting Computer Science Education Week. “Doing so will not only increase their own competitiveness, but that of our great state and nation.”

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama called on each American to learn at least some computer coding.

“If we want America to stay on the cutting edge, we need young Americans like you to master the tools and technology that will change the ways we do just about anything,” he said.

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