Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Buffalo Creek Elementary wins $10,000 through “Hour of Code”

A Spring Branch ISD elementary school won $10,000 for new student laptops and iPads through its support for a daylong computer science programming effort known as the “Hour of Code.” Millions of students of all ages across America wrote lines of computer code or took part during an outreach effort last week.

SBISD Educational Technology Director Sheri Alford presented Buffalo Creek Elementary School’s campus technology representative, Hector Garza, a second-grade bilingual teacher, with a symbolic $10,000 check. The check presentation occurred in front of students, teachers and staff during a special presentation held Dec. 13 in the combined auditorium and gym.

District educational technology director Alford’s remarks to gathered students coordinated with an “Hour of Code” program in which more than 600 Buffalo Creek students took turns in the library and two computer station pods to learn simple drag and drop programming and  “code” scripts to make a variety of digital games and videos run correctly.

“So what does ‘code’ really mean?” Director Alford asked students rhetorically. “How many of you like to play video games and use apps?” Student hands shot up into the air. “Well, to play those games someone coded those games to make them work the way they do – and they get paid really well to do that. So knowing how to code not only makes you special, but it can mean a really good job for you some day!”

Hector Garza was the only lucky teacher in Texas to win $10,000 through the nonprofit organization Code.org, which promoted the nationwide programming effort as part of Computer Science Education Week, Dec. 9-15. He also received a proclamation on behalf of the school for participating in the special week from Houston Mayor Annise Parker.

The mayor’s proclamation and a pair of programmable teddy bears were brought to the elementary school by Karen North, who supported the “Hour of Code” effort in SBISD schools through the American Association of University Women (AAUW) – West Houston County Branch. The group held a teacher training event, too.

Code.org aims to increase programming skills among all students and public understanding about the benefits of computer science training by getting 10 million students to take part in one “hour of code” last week.

Globally, more than 16.2 million students globally have taken part in the coding effort, and together they wrote more than 535.5 million lines of computer code. Forty-nine percent of students coding were girls, organizers reported.

Director Alford encouraged girls and boys to do well in school and then go to a university or a college. She told Buffalo Creek students that other SBISD schools and local colleges were taking part in the coding exercise with them – Memorial High and Second Baptist schools, Rice and Texas A&M universities, and the University of Texas at Austin, among other educational institutions.

In SBISD, classrooms representing more than 2,000 students at the elementary, middle and high school level registered for the “Hour of Code” event. The district’s 26 elementary schools have already introduced computer programming to students as young as kindergarten, and each elementary campus has a set of robotic Bee-bots, or programmable floor robots, that children love to program and play with. The local AAUW chapter supports this learning.

Hector Garza registered the school for the effort through a well-known online fundraising group called Donorschoose.org. School Librarian Carol Lee helped write the winning proposal, and she supported the well organized, daylong student learning program in the library and in two nearby learning pods.

A humble Garza thanked everyone for making “Hour of Code” a success this year.

“This grant will help integrate technology into the school. I’m especially happy for the students of Buffalo Creek Elementary, which was the main and original reason for participating,” he said.

Principal David Rodriquez said that he – like others on campus – was surprised and then delighted to learn that Hector’s “Hour of Code” enrollment was chosen as a statewide prize winner by Code.org.
For more information about Computer Science Education Week and this topic:




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