HALB Middle School STEM students recently completed an Hour of Code – a global initiative reaching over 45 million students that demystifies “code” by showing the basic concepts of coding in an engaging, user-friendly format and broadens participation in the field of computer science. The Hour of Code projects at HALB take students through tutorials to create an interactive experience that conveys the story of Chanukah. The Hour of Code culminated with a game-show-style quiz showcasing the concepts and code that students acquired.

In STEM classes last week, we coded an app that shows how to make toast – and what happens if you aren’t paying attention! Helped by on-screen instructions, the user places toast in the toaster, waits for it to pop up, and then places it on the plate and puts jam on it. Students designed a new “Burned Toast” costume for the “actor” (the Bread) and set the behaviors of the Bread based upon its costume. The user is either asked to toss out the burned toast and try again, or celebrate the successfully prepared toast with jam. Students learned to place actors in different “states” based on user interaction, and employed principles of effective game design.

During Chanukah week, students worked on a Tynker project that tells the story of the Maccabees and the miraculous oil in an interactive, creative fashion. As the Chanukah story is shared, the shamash is used to light the candles. Students learned to control on-screen events by passing “messages” between actors. They then went on a “code scavenger hunt” to find the code that controls various behaviors, including:

  • What triggers the candles to light?
  • The snow puts out flames on candles. Can you stop this?
  • How can we ensure that the candles are always lit in the correct order?
  • Which line of code makes the shamash go out when it is still being held?

We look forward to more Hours of Code in STEM class this spring. HALB eighth grader Andrew Bornstein shared, “I like learning to code, and this was a fun way to do it!”