Alcona County youth are writing computer code

Youth in Alcona County are just a handful of youth across Michigan that participated in the Hour of Code.

Alcona County youth engaged in computer coding.
Alcona County youth engaged in computer coding.

Alcona County elementary and middle school youth celebrated International Hour of Code Week Dec. 5-7, 2016, by participating in three days of basic computer coding using popular formats like Minecraft, Star Wars and Disney’s Frozen. The Hour of Code, hosted by Michigan State University Extension’s Alcona County 4-H, while engaging and fun, provides youth with an introduction to computer science. It also gives youth the opportunity to engage in problem-solving using logic and creativity. Computer science courses and opportunities like Hour of Code provide youth with an entrance into the world of computers by teaching youth how to create new technologies instead of simply being consumers of them.

During the three days, Alcona County youth stayed after school to learn basic block programing with a video tutorial. The first day they used Minecraft as the platform. Youth manipulated blocks of code into a specific order so that when they ran the code, it resulted in the character engaging with its environment. As the tutorial advanced, they changed the environment, added sounds and loop actions using repeat commands. Throughout the tutorial, the youth were 100 percent engaged with the only sound coming from the computers.

Youth explaining their code to MSU Extension Science EducatorDuring the second day of coding, youth advanced to Star Wars. They were introduced to if/then statements where they could cause a specific response when a designated action was completed. Youth also had the option of moving from block coding to JavaScript and could type in the appropriate codes instead of manipulating block codes. By the third day, the volume of the room had increased slightly as the youth were creating their own mini-programs and sharing them with their friends.

The Hour of Code in Alcona County was an engaging success, introducing youth to computer science through coding using three popular formats: Minecraft, Star Wars and Disney’s Frozen. We expect to participate in Hour of Code again next year and are exploring the possibility of expanding the event to include families.

For more ways to share science with youth in your life, please explore the MSU Extension Science and Engineering webpage. For more information about 4-H learning opportunities and other 4-H programs, contact your local MSU Extension office. To learn more about 4-H and Extension opportunities in Alcona County, stop by our Harrisville office at 320 S. US-23 or visit our Alcona County MSU Extension Facebook page.

MSU Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program help to create a community excited about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). 4-H STEM programming seeks to increase science literacy, introducing youth to the experiential learning process that helps them to build problem-solving, critical-thinking and decision-making skills. Youth who participate in 4-H STEM are better equipped with critical life skills necessary for future success. To learn more about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth in STEM literacy programs, read our 2015 Impact Report: “Building Science Literacy and Future STEM Professionals.”

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