TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Local kids took a seat in front of a computer Tuesday night for an important but fun lesson. Rose-Hulman Institute of technology hosted an "Hour of Code" event to prepare students for a high-tech future.
7 year old McKinley was one of nearly ninety kids participating in the event.
"I'm coding Moana to defeat the coconuts on the ship."
It is one of many global events happening this week with the goal of getting five hundred million people coding.
Rose-Hulman organized three one-hour sessions on campus for youths in kindergarten through second grade, third through fifth grades and sixth through eighth grades in the Olin Advanced Learning Center. The sessions featured activities appropriate for that particular age group.
Dr. David Fisher, Professor of Computer Science and Software Engineering says, "One of our middle school hour of codes is, they're actually making an app in an hour and it's kind of a fun game because you can send it to your phone and see what your app is."
Younger kids worked on a series of challenges.
McKinley says, "I have blocks that I can code Moana to go to certain places and dodge their weapons and kill them."
Each student had access to a computer to complete hands-on projects through an online Hour of Code tutorial. Rose-Hulman student volunteers were available to assist the children, and computer science professors David Mutchler and Fisher provided a short talk about how students can expand their computing horizons through more online modules.
Dr. Fisher says computer literacy and programming skills have joined reading, writing and arithmetic as essential skills for elementary school students in preparation for tomorrow’s high-tech future.
Computer programmers and software engineers use code to create phone apps and websites.
He adds, while there may be more jobs available in places like Indianapolis there is still a need for qualified workers in Terre Haute.
"In the world today there's a lot more jobs available in programming than people available to fill them and it's actually a really quite staggering gap that keeps getting bigger every year."
McKinley says coding is like playing a game and she is the designer. She likes learning with family and friends and thinks others should try it.
"I think that it's great and that they should share it with their friends or others so that they can learn how to code, too."
Fisher and others organized a Connecting with Code computing educational experience last summer on campus for groups of elementary school and middle school students. He says they will offer the program again and encourages parents to sign their kids up for the class.
Fisher says, "If your kid's got a couple minutes in the van, look up an app like box island or lightbot and let them play that instead of something else and they'll actually really value it and if you trick them right they won't even know they're learning."