Middle School Rolls Out New Computer Science Course

Middle School Rolls Out New Computer Science Course
Pocomoke Middle students are pictured in the new computer science class. Submitted Photo

POCOMOKE – Students at Pocomoke Middle School will celebrate the success of a new computer science class with an “Hour of Code” next week.

In recognition of Computer Science Education Week Dec. 3-9, Pocomoke Middle School will participate in Hour of Code, an international movement to bring attention to coding and computer science.

“We’re going to join millions of students around the world with coding,” said Chestina Handy, computer science teacher at Pocomoke Middle. “Kids can do things like create avatars that dance and do classic mazes. Every child will have an opportunity to get on the computer and do some coding.”

Educators at Pocomoke Middle are eager to participate in the annual Hour of Code this year as it comes just months after the launch of the school’s new computer science class. The class is required for all students in fifth and eighth grade and is being offered as an elective for students in sixth and seventh grade. In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan has made computer science a priority for schools.

“It’s good for our kids,” Pocomoke Middle Principal Matthew Record said.

According to Record, offering computer science classes at Pocomoke Middle — a school with a high percentage of students living in poverty — will increase opportunities for local children.

“It’s a great equalizer for our students,” he said. “We have the highest percentage of poverty but that’s not going to define us. We’re preparing kids for 21st century jobs.”

Record says that while there are always challenges with launching a new curriculum, the process has been rewarding.

“This is something totally new for students,” he said. “Part of that is difficult, part of that is really exciting.”

Handy said that initially, some students questioned the purpose of the new class at first. They quickly started enjoying themselves however.

“At first they were a little concerned but then they were like ‘wow the more I do it the better I become,’” she said. “I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out. I think the children need it. Technology’s all over. It’s everywhere. They need to be able to move forward with technology and how programming works.”

In computer science class, Handy says she’s showing the younger students the basics—mazes, dragging and dropping blocks—while the older students are already building webpages.

“They’ve also learned a lot about problem solving and the design process so they can create apps,” she said.

To mark Computer Science Education Week, all of the students at Pocomoke Middle will join the Hour of Code movement. Throughout the week, coding lessons will include interactive, hands-on activities that will give students the chance to create apps and games.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.