(TNS) — "A computer is only as smart as the person who programmed it," Bryan Lee with Clemson University told Liberty Elementary students Monday morning.
He spoke to them about the importance of computer science and as a photo of a character from Minecraft appeared on the projector screen, the students cheered.
This is the first year Liberty Elementary students will participate with millions of other students nationwide. They will have a chance to code actions for characters from popular movies and games such as Minecraft, "Frozen," "Star Wars" and Angry Birds.
Liberty Elementary kicked off the computer science initiative with guest speakers, celebrating a $10,000 check the school received from Code.org, a nonprofit organization that started the nationwide initiative to increase knowledge and availability of computer science in schools. Only one school from each state receives a check from the organization.
With the money from the organization, Dawn Miller, an instructional technology coach, will be purchasing about 80 Chromebooks for the fourth grade at Liberty. Currently each fifth-grade student has a Chromebook, and Miller wants to include fourth-grade students in this opportunity as well.
By next school year, the fourth-grade students should have their own Chromebooks to take to school. Having technology in the classroom, such as Chromebooks, changes the role of the teacher to that of a facilitator.
"It makes the students take more responsibility for their education," said Liberty Elementary Principal Lowell Haynes.
During the Hour of Code week, students of all ages will learn the basics of coding, how to problem solve and critically think for at least one hour.
"I want them to understand that it's OK to mess up and try again," Miller said. "They have got to be able to problem solve, and I hope it sparks interest for future careers."
Miller had never heard of Code.org until she went to a technology professional development workshop a few months ago.
"It intrigued me that kids could create this," Miller said.
So, she brought what she learned back to the school and asked the principal if she could sign the school up for the Hour of Code. Right after the assembly, a fourth-grade class logged onto Code.org in the computer lab, put on headphones and began coding. Fourth-grade student Seline Oglesby began coding for her character Elsa from "Frozen." Her task was to make Elsa to walk in a square.
It took her a couple of times to get the coding right, and every time she messed up she told her self to try again.
"I like the way it shows you where you messed up," Seline said.
Students watched videos about how to code, and then solved coding puzzles, with the difficulty level increasing with each new puzzle.
"It teaches you about angles and degrees," Seline said. "It's a fun way of learning."
©2015 the Anderson Independent Mail (Anderson, S.C.), Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.