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Saturday, January 25, 2020

This week RYNJ participated in the Hour of Code. The international Hour of Code is a one hour introduction to computer science designed to show that anybody can learn the basics of computer coding. In the simplest sense, coding is a way to tell a computer what you want it to do. It usually involves creating step-by-step directions for the computer to follow. Every digital device we use, from smartphones to computers, from microwaves to calculators uses code to operate, even websites and video games. By teaching coding, we are essentially teaching students how to be architects of their own digital experiences and their future world.

Our Educational Technologists, Rabbi Dov Hochbaum and Rabbi Efrayim Clair, led our students in workshops throughout the week. After a brief instructional video, students were taught age-appropriate skills and were able to actually create an app, computer game, or a drawing. Students engaged in everything from an “Angry Birds” coding program to a “Frozen” program. Students were also engaged in an interactive hands-on cup activity to teach them the mechanics of coding offline as well. The activity taught students the concept of coding by showing them the value of instructions in performing a task. Students had to explain how to move cups in different directions in order to “create” a model of cups in a certain pattern.

Students were excited and engrossed in the process. One sixth grader remarked, “It is so much fun to create a program. I never really thought about how an app works. ” Another 3rd grade student exclaimed, “It was really cool. I learned how to make my character sing a song, and I realized I can do big things!”

We live in a world immersed in technology. Consequentially, regardless of the career choices our children make, their success is increasingly determined by their ability to utilize technology in meaningful ways. Computer coding is a foreign language that we feel is beneficial for our students to be exposed to. The value of knowing the underlying logic and language of computer programming is immeasurable. Hence, over 700 of our students, in grades 3 through 8, participated in this historical and valuable learning experience.

Our new computer science curriculum includes coding. This event was our “kickoff event” and we plan to continue workshops and classes throughout the year. It was wholly embraced by the students and faculty. We feel that providing our students with opportunities to learn this 21st century language is giving them a marketable skill that will enhance their overall mathematical abilities and enable them to better appreciate technologies around them. This is a chance to support a lifelong love of learning and embrace skills our students will need both in the classroom and outside in the years to come.

For more information about RYNJ’s exciting educational technology initiatives contact Rabbi Dov Hochbaum at [email protected] or Rabbi Efrayim Clair at [email protected] Or visit rynj.org/code to look at what options our students had for coding this week.