The kindergarteners can’t read well, but that doesn’t stop them from learning how to code.
Beginning on Monday, students throughout the Somerville school district will join a weeklong global movement designed to enhance their computer thought, logic, and skills. More than 180 countries will take place in over 109,000 Hour of Code events.
Somerville, now in its fourth year, stands poised at the helm of Massachusetts’s participation.
“We won a Distinguished Leadership Award from the Mass Tech Leadership Council [last year],” said Charlie LaFauci, Somerville’s district supervisor of library media services and one of the lead organizers of Somerville’s Hour of Code.
For the past three years, every student in the district has participated. The same will happen this year, as coding lessons will take over classes the students are already enrolled in: library classes for kindergarten through eighth grade, and math classes for high school students.
This year, the lessons will reach outside the classroom. A variety of afterschool programs will be available for students and their parents to attend.
The lessons taught will range from robotic programming to all-girl hackathons to simpler exercises where students “drag and drop” visual components on Disney-themed programs to create new codes. They’re taught by a combination of parent and community volunteers involved in the tech world. Local companies WinterWyman, Pegasystems, and HubSpot provide the most volunteers, and they’re joined by others from Google and Amazon.
Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, Kim Rice from the state Department of Education, and Somerville Superintendent of Schools Mary Skipper will attend Monday’s kickoff. Meanwhile, fifth-grade students will work with volunteers from Leslie University at the Kennedy School’s innovation lab.
“Our students deserve every opportunity to help them learn, grow, and thrive in a 21st century learning environment, preparing them for a 21st century career,” said Curtatone. “I am thankful to be the mayor of a city where community partners, businesses, and organizations continue to come together to support this kind of educational opportunity.”
One of the benefits of the annual event, LaFauci said, is that it exposes kids of all age groups to coding and technology, perhaps showing them they have an aptitude for skills they otherwise wouldn’t have learned.
“You give someone that chance, it could lead to a career . . . it could lead to a passion,” LaFauci said. “We give every kid that chance.”