In January 2014, the simple-but-addictive mobile game Flappy Bird was the most-downloaded app from the iOs App store, earning its 20-something creator a reported $50,000 a day. Those kinds of stats get the attention of teenagers.
It’s no surprise, then, that students across the world have jumped at the opportunity to program their own versions of the game during Hour of Code, an international promotion offering “a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics.”
At Huntley High School, computer science teacher Michelle Zietlow has encouraged students to take part in the project, which is as easy as logging onto Zietlow’s Haiku page for a quick tutorial. After watching a few videos on the basics, students can use a drag-and-drop interface to program game actions, such what movements or sounds occur when a mouse is clicked.
Within about an hour, students will have gotten an introduction to computer programming and the chance to create and play their own custom versions of Flappy Bird.
“It’s a quick introduction for them to see what it’s like to code,” Zietlow said. “It’s fun, whether students have previous experience or not.”
Zietlow noted that parents, or anyone, can try their hand at learning a new skill.
More than 100 Huntley High School students have spread their coding wings since December 8, which coincides with the start of national Computer Science Education week. The promotion runs through December 14, though the Hour of Code activities will be available after that time as well.
According to Zietlow, who worked for several years as a software engineer at Motorola and Continental Automotive Systems before becoming a teacher, experiences such as this may seem small but can have a big effect on students. By making what may be an intimidating skill to learn so accessible, students may discover an interest in computer science they previously might not have considered pursuing.
Such a choice might prove lucrative, Zietlow said, noting that in U.S. News and World Report’s most recent listings of “Best Jobs,” five of the top 12 are computer science-related.
“It’s a growing field with high-paying jobs,” she said. “It also involves a lot of problem solving and logical thinking, so no matter what field you go into, programming can help you out.”
But if that’s not incentive enough, Zietlow said she is offering entries for raffle prizes all week for students who complete the activity through her Haiku page.
Visit https://district158.learning.powerschool.com/mzietlow/hourofcode/cms_page/view/17044163 to learn more and join in the fun.
Learn more about Hour of Code at http://hourofcode.com/us.