Karla Conway, Resource Development Director for the Presbyterian Home for Children, said she found out about the program just after the Hope Academy team returned triumphantly from the robotics competition in Auburn last week.
“I took a look at it, and it looked really cool,” Conway said. “So I asked the school to check it out, and (math teacher and robotics team coach) Dianne Rogers did.”
As of this week, Conway said, every student at Hope Academy has completed the first hour of basic programming.
“In the future, we are going to be seeing more new technology in our homes, and someone will need to know how to program it,” Rogers explained. “That may sound scary at first. But this takes something that might be scary and intimidating to most people, and puts it into terms that they understand. It starts out with things they will be familiar with, like the first step was helping an ‘Angry Bird’ find its way to the pig that has taken its egg. Then there are zombies, which are very now, and then an exercise with moving dirt, then drawing circles and other shapes.”
Once the basic course has been completed, students are free to continue onward with more complex tasks. Rogers said one of her students is already working independently to develop a new game.
“It’s like when graphing calculators first came out,” she said. “They couldn’t do all the things they can do now, but at first we had them write programs for cartoons before moving on to the math programs. You think it would be difficult, but when you think on those levels any one can do it. And they will.”
Conway agreed. “This demystifies the computer, and teaches them to be ready for the technology of the future,” she said. “And is it happens, this program works well with what the robotics team was working on, too.”
A few weeks ago, Conway added, a group of younger students were on a field trip, and someone asked the group what their favorite subjects were.
“Most of the time, with kids that age, some will say recess, or lunch or something like that. But just about all of these kids said either science or math. And because of that emphasis, we can help them see how useful what they’re learning can be for problem solving and for moving into the future.”