#CSforGood – Hour of Code 2019 – Middle School Edition

#CSforGood – Hour of Code 2019 – Middle School Edition

Context - Computer Science for Good

Computer Science can often appear quite mystical and obscure especially if you associate it with the cipher of lines of code written in a language which you do not understand.  While any language which you do not understand can cause anxiety and concern, the truth is that computer science is and can be a powerful force for good in our world.  

When you consider the things that computer science makes possible like immediately getting turn-by-turn directions to the nearest hospital or easily and quickly communicating with friends, family, and colleagues around the world, you begin to comprehend some of the many powerful ways that computer science can improve our daily lives.

Studying computer science is an opportunity for all learners to engage with problems, big and small, facing our human community and create solutions to make our shared world a little bit better for everyone.  That’s why #CSforGood, Computer Science for Good, is this year’s theme for Code.org’s Hour of Code and a fantastic reason to explore coding during this year’s Computer Science Education Week.

You will find a series of activities below inviting students to explore computer science and coding and consider some of the problems facing our world and those who are engaging with those problems to discover solutions.  The activities are organized from least to most challenging.

Enjoy Computer Science Education Week, and please reach out with any questions, comments or ideas about these activities and how best to enjoy them inside or outside of the classroom.

Level 1 - AI for Oceans

In this activity, intended for Grades 3+, students will be introduced to what AI and Machine Learning are, how they work, and the problems that machine learning might help to solve as well as problems that machine learning might create.

Learn how to train a machine learning algorithm and much more about machine learning and artificial intelligent by clicking on the image below.

“Without music, life would be a mistake.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

There are few things that do as much good in the world as dancing to your favorite music.  Whether dancing alone, with those you love, or with strangers, “getting your groove on” is an amazingly joyful activity. Click on the image below to learn how to create a dance party using block-based programming.  This activity is aimed at individuals in Grades 2+.

We all have heroes. For instance, my favorite heroes from history are Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabbaz) and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  However, I could also name some favorite heroes from my personal life, from movies, books, and television and from almost any of the academic fields that I’ve studied in my career.  That’s one of the many great things about heroes, you can have as many people that you admire as you want.

The activity below from Google’s CS First, aimed at Grades 2-8,  gives you a step-by-step guide to turning one of your heroes into a superhero using MIT’s Scratch, a block-based coding platform.  Click on the image below to start creating your superhero. 

Level 4 - Create Your Own Chatbot

Do you think all of the above of is “baby stuff”?  Are you saying, “Come on, man, enough of this block-based stuff, I want to really write some code!”?

If so, you might what to attempt creating your own chatbot with Python by clicking on the the image below and exploring my High School Edition of this guide for Computer Science Education Week 2019. If that’s not your style, check out the list of other learning opportunities below.

Support and More Learning Opportunities

If you have questions about the information above, please feel free to reach out to Technology Coach Ben Brigham at brighamb@westbrookschools.org.  I’m happy to support your exploration of technology, computer science and coding.

If you are interested in learning more about computer science and coding, there are numerous opportunities to learn for free on the web.  You can find many of them by simply searching the web, but I highly recommend the following three resources.

Again, if you have any questions or ideas, please feel free to reach out any time.  

Happy Adventures until we cross paths again!