With technology constantly evolving, knowledge of Computer Science has become a critical skill. Here at Hudson Montessori School, we feel that it’s not only important to teach students how to navigate technology, but also inspire them to be creators of technology. To spark that interest we introduce students to Computational Thinking Skills using unplugged and on-screen activities.
Every year we observe the Hour of Code, a global movement introducing tens of millions of students worldwide to computer science, inspiring kids to learn more, break stereotypes and leave them feeling empowered. During the course of the year, our students are introduced to various computer science activities as they explore tutorials on code.org. During Computer Science Education week we hosted Code Night for our K-6 students on December 4 and 5th. These evening events not only provided students with an opportunity to try computer science but also provided a platform for them to share the skills they acquired, with parents and peers.
At HMS, our approach has always included making connections among different subject areas. This years theme was a wonderful opportunity for all of us to meet the very first programmer, Mother Nature! Our theme, Nature Codes, Nature Inspires reflected on how different processes and systems in nature follow patterns and algorithms, and how engineers continue to be inspired by Nature to create modern day technologies like robotics, motion tracking, and aerodynamic solutions.
The Computer is like the Human Brain
We drew an analogy with how the parts of the computer function like the Human Brain. The display also featured an interactive informational component coded by our 3rd-grade students
Atoms to Molecules – Bits to Bytes.
We started with the fundamental building blocks of matter and how atoms come together to form molecules. In the same way bits, the building blocks of bytes form an important building block in digital information.
DNA the Code of Life
DNA a complex macromolecule, referred to as the code of life, is a code containing instructions on how to build various proteins. After learning about what DNA is made up of and how DNA between species varies, our Lower Elementary students were tasked with creating the double helix molecule using the color-coded nucleotide. They also had to decipher the code and identify the animal using its DNA code. This provided a fun way of reinforcing the Computational Thinking Skill – Pattern Recognition.
Our Upper Elementary students created the double helix using PyMOL a molecular visualization software. The Py part of the software‘s name refers to that it extends, and is extensible by, the programming language Python.
Nature Inspired Robotics
Robotics engineers are looking to nature for inspirations to create the robots of the future. This section provided students with an opportunity to learn about the latest technology in robotics and try coding some of our school robots.
The event also featured several unplugged activities to reinforce the concept of an algorithm. Unplugged activities are a great way to engage young children to develop and understand Computational Skills.
Coding with Scratch Jr, Scratch and Trinket.
Students also had the opportunity to explore coding using block-based programming software such as Scratch Jr. and Scratch. Some students also explore Python using PyMol or Trinket.
Beyond an Hour of Code
Computer Science continues to be part of the school’s curriculum and students will continue to Computational Thinking concepts such as Decomposition, Pattern Recognition, Abstraction, and Algorithms during the course of the year.
We also host a Girls Who Code Club open to girls in the neighborhood. These classes are free and offered every other Saturday for girls in two batches. Grades 3-5 and Grade 6-9.