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Photo courtesy of M.S. 158 Marie Curie
Parents pose with certificates after completing an hour of code.

Parents of students at M.S. 158 in Bayside got in on the fun during the school’s Computer Science Education Week.

On Tuesday, Dec. 6, the Marie Curie Middle School invited parents for an hour of code, during which they learned the basics of coding languages like HTML, CSS and Python.

Computer Science Education Week, abbreviated as CSEdWeek, is an internationally recognized week that was started as a way to inspire students from kindergarten to 12th grade to take an interest in computer science. This year marks the second year that M.S 158 is participating by hosting a week of coding and binary activities.

Computer teacher Lyn Parker led the two “hour of code” demonstrations that gave parents the opportunity to participate in fun, interactive coding activities. Participants had the choice between several “drag and drop” exercises: four Minecraft coding games or a Dance Party game that allowed them to program an avatar to do popular dances like the “floss” and the “dab.”

For most of the parents, this was their first time engaging with code, despite their children attending a school with a strong emphasis on computer science. Parker shared that it was a challenging experience for many but ended up being rewarding.

“I wanted them to figure it out, so they had to go step by step by step, really slow, she said. “Then once they got it, they were very happy about accomplishing [it.] It is fun once you finally get it.”

Parker added that it’s important for parents to learn these basic lessons to gain insight into what their children are learning.

“They can have a greater understanding of what their children are doing in school. We encourage the kids to do it at home as well so they [parents] can maybe lend a hand or they can learn from the child.”

Once the hour was over, each parent received a signed certificate of completion to mark their accomplishments.

“Every parent that leaves gets a certificate also because they may not have completed the whole thing, but they got most of it done,” said Parker. “Everyone loves stickers, so no matter how they were, they wanted their certificate with a sticker.”

According to Principal Hank Schandel, parents gave the push for making computer science part of the regular curriculum. Previously, the classes were only offered as an elective.

“I remember my first year as principal there was one parent who asked ‘how come my child doesn’t have access to computer class’ and it was limited seating. But now we changed the program so now we have every sixth grader and every seventh grader [in classes],” said Schandel.

The principal, whose first-grade son also does coding exercises, said that computer science and coding is beneficial for the students to learn.

“One thing that stood out to me is how it’s kinda teaching them to think about their steps ahead. Just being engaged in that [and] the problem solving. They’re learning stuff and they’re having fun with it,” Schandel said.

CSEdWeek continues through Sunday, Dec. 9. By the end of the week, Parker said that the school will have submitted over 1,000 certificates of completion to code.org.

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