Polo Park Students Learn Programming

Last month, more than 100 seventh-grade and eighth-grade students at Polo Park Middle School participated in the Code.org “Hour of Code” program.

Code.org is a nonprofit organization with the goal of introducing students, especially underrepresented populations such as women and people of color, to computer programming.

All of the students spent a minimum of one class period learning the basics of coding by navigating through a series of game-based modules that one student described as being “like puzzles.” The students were so successful in the introductory course that many of them went on to complete additional coursework at home, and 18 students completed the entire 20-hour course.

Additionally, because those 18 students were among the first 1,000 classes in the country to complete the program, their teacher, Ryan Smith, was awarded a $1,000 donorschoose.org credit.

Smith’s students will now be taking the skills developed in the coding program and applying them to a variety of projects directly related to the middle school science curriculum. With the help of grants provided by Florida Power & Light and the Air Force Association, students will be constructing and programming solar-powered water fountains for their school garden and a water bottle rocket equipped with an altitude tracking computer.

The students are excited to put their skills to the test and are planning on spending extra time outside of the classroom working on the projects.