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Villa Maria Academy High School Participates in Nation-wide “Hour of Code” Initiative to Educate Students in Computer Science Dec. 9 to 15

(Left to right) Villa Maria Academy High School students Lauren Turco and Ariana O’Leary work together in class on an Hour of Code tutorial Dec. 12.
(Left to right) Villa Maria Academy High School students Lauren Turco and Ariana O’Leary work together in class on an Hour of Code tutorial Dec. 12.

Students at Villa Maria Academy High School had a taste of what it’s like to work in the world of computer programming. Computer Science Education Week, from Dec. 9 through 15, brought nearly one million people together through the Hour of Code initiative, including Villa Maria students in all grades.

 

“Coding is one of the best ways to learn problem solving with step-wise solutions, yet only 10 percent of high schools are offering computer programming courses and only 18 percent of Computer Science bachelor’s degrees are received by women,” Villa Maria Technology Specialist Carol Sweeney said.

Additionally, Computer Science is one of the quickest growing fields, with over 1.4 million computing jobs estimated to be available by 2020, equaling about $500 billion in employment opportunities.

With only 10 percent of high schools teaching Computer Science, and so few women in the field, Sweeney felt it was important for the school to participate in Hour of Code. The idea behind the initiative is for anyone interested in Computer Science to spend one hour a day learning code, in order to promote that basic computer programming is not difficult.

Computer Science students at Villa Maria completed activities during class as part of the initiative, sponsored by Google, Microsoft, College Board, SAS, National Math and Science Initiative, among others. Villa currently offers seven Computer Science classes as electives for students on a rotating basis.

Villa Maria students not currently enrolled in the Computer Science class also participated in the Hour of Code during their lunch break Dec. 12.

“I’d never done code before this but I like doing it because the problems you encounter test your reasoning skills,” ninth grader Jen Finley said. She is in Sweeney’s morning Computer Science class. “You have to think about the problem, and sometimes it’s hard, but when you figure it out its fun. There are also sometimes when you have to think ahead in order to avoid problems.”

Students in both the Computer Science class and lunch break sessions participated in tutorials, including “Write your first computer program,” “An introduction to JavaScript,” “A taste of Python programming,” and “Build an iPhone game in your browser.” These tutorials were all provided by the Hour of Code initiative online.

Computer Science Education Week was created by Code.org, a non-profit organization that aims to bring Computer Science to all grades across the country.

“Hour of Code is a great idea for getting students interested in Computer Science,” Sweeney said. “The tutorials have gone over well with the students and I think the follow-up to this is going to be amazing. This is a great introductory tool for beginners since traditionally materials weren’t as targeted to them.”

Villa Maria Academy is located at 370 Old Lincoln Highway, Malvern.

About Villa Maria Academy

Villa Maria Academy High School (Malvern, Pa.) is a private Catholic high school, preparing girls for college and beyond in the tradition of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. At Villa Maria, students are taught to be critical thinkers and confident leaders. These young ladies pursue a course of study that will continually reinforce analytical problem-solving skills, high-level thinking, and increasingly independent work. Villa Maria empowers young women to lead lives of spiritual growth, intellectual inquiry and Christian service. For more information, visit www.vmahs.org.

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