ARL Outreach participates in an Hour of Code with neighboring students

January 13, 2016

By Tracie R. Dean, ARL Public Affairs

Story Highlights

  • Established as a new initiative to get more coding into classrooms nationally, an Hour of Code is an education workshop that joins students, educators and the technical industry together as a step to support computer science in schools. Through the workshops, students engage in coding activities that promote computational thinking and foster new problem-solving skills.
  • The collaboration was a part of ARL's STEM Outreach Education Program that develops partnerships and promotes extensive collaboration between ARL's researchers, educators and students at local elementary, middle and high schools.
  • Engineers from ARL's Computational and Information Sciences and Sensors and Electron Devices Directorates were on hand to provide support to students, share their experiences with coding and provide background on their career paths.

To help motivate American youth to pursue educational opportunities and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, researchers from across the US Army Research Laboratory routinely participate in STEM related activities in local schools.

Recently, engineers from ARL participated in a relatively new STEM workshop called an "Hour of Code" at Buck Lodge Middle School, located in Prince Georges County, Md., which is in close proximity to ARL's Adelphi Laboratory Center.

Established as a new initiative to get more coding into classrooms nationally, an Hour of Code is an education workshop that joins students, educators and the technical industry together as a step to support computer science in schools. Through the workshops, students engage in coding activities that promote computational thinking and foster new problem-solving skills.

William Mapp, founder and CEO of the Maryland technology-based firm Studio Code Works, explained the history of computing and why introducing coding to students is important.

"We want to encourage a new generation of students to take computer science and coding and treat it as a craft," Mapp said. "Programming is such a great field and considered one of the higher art forms students need to thrive in tomorrow's society."

The collaboration was part of ARL's STEM Outreach Education Program that develops partnerships and promotes extensive collaboration between ARL's researchers, educators and students at local elementary, middle and high schools.

Debbie Conn, ARL STEM outreach coordinator at the Adelphi campus, discussed the importance of students identifying their career interests and determining which academic subjects broaden their scope of knowledge in pursuit of their career aspirations.

"Ensuring students have an awareness of college and career opportunities is the focus of outreach. While not all interests lead to careers in computer science or STEM, recognizing a student's strengths and weaknesses will help guide them into the right careers," Conn said.

Engineers from ARL's Computational and Information Sciences and Sensors and Electron Devices Directorates were on hand to provide support to students, share their experiences with coding and provide background on their career paths.

Andrew Witcher, an electrical engineer, responded to one student's inquiry about the type of support civilians provide to the Soldiers.

"As a former Soldier and Airman, I have seen the evolution of computers. Computers and coding play a significant role in almost everything we do. Both are important to understand as an engineer in order to design and develop programs," Witcher said.

Buck Lodge Principal Kenneth Lance explained the relevance of the coding workshop and how students benefit by participating in coding activities.

"Coding lines up with math, which students perform daily," he said. "The underlying goal of having all 1,200 students participate in today's workshop is to show the connections between programming and math and provide the tools for problem solving, logic and creativity."

An Hour of Code takes place each year during Computer Science Education Week, but workshops are held year round. For more information about ARL's outreach initiatives, visit ARL on the web at www.arl.army.mil.


The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is the nation's premier laboratory for land forces and is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC delivers it.

For more information, visit www.arl.army.mil, follow @ArmyResearchLab on Twitter and follow the lab on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ArmyResearchLaboratory.

 

Last Update / Reviewed: January 13, 2016