Hour of Code
NH students take part in computer education week
University of New Hampshire freshman Charles McNaughton, 18, helps Durham students from left, Elyse Holmes, 7, Charlie Holmes, 10, and Andrew Holmes, 12, during an Hour of Code event on Friday that helped teach students the basic concepts of computer programming through computer games. (Gretyl Macalaster Photo)
Radim Bartos, chairman of the computer science department at UNH, said the basic concepts the young students are learning are the same ones taught in a freshman-level computer science course at the university.
In one game, the students had to capture a pig familiar to them from the game “Angry Birds” by picking up and moving blocks in different directions.
“Because I wanted to learn how to program stuff because then I can build games,” Holmes said.
“I like playing video games, but it’s different, because somebody else does everything for you,” Charlie Holmes said.
The boys’ mother, Helen Holmes, said she took a couple of college-level computer programming classes and could not understand it, but the programs used for Hour of Code broke it all down in a really simple way.
Muriel Kelly of Durham said she had been looking for something like this for her son. Neither she nor her husband are involved in computer science, but understand it is the way the world works now.
She said the children approach it as a game and are not scared to try things with technology, or to make mistakes and learn from them.
His first exposure to programming was in middle school as part of a Lego robotics club. He said he thinks it is good to start introducing younger generations to computer programming, because jobs abound in the field.
Bartos said the need for computer engineers is evident nationally as well as in New Hampshire specifically, where there are 1,800 open software development positions. The UNH computer science department will graduate 60 students this year, most of them men.
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