'Hour of Code': Bend students learn programming

Global initiative teaches computer science

Bend school joins 'Hour of Code'

BEND, Ore. - Trinity Lutheran fifth-grader Aidan Ramsthel is learning how to program.

"I'm trying to get the angry bird to go around corners and get the pig," he said  Tuesday.

Aidan and the rest of his classmates are taking an hour out of their day to code, using the popular game "Angry Birds."

"Uou can hit reset or run program again and it will go to find the pig," said one student.

"Figuring it all out -- that's the fun part," said another.

The concept? Don't just download the latest app -- help design it.

"It's something that they're familiar with in the games, but this gives them the opportunity to see that they don't have to be scared to try it," said Trinity Lutheran Principal Hanne Krause.

It's all part of "Hour of Code" -- a worldwide campaign aiming to engage students in computer science and programming.

By dragging and dropping blocks of code to create simple games, stories and animations,  students can learn the connection between symbols and actions.

"It's really cool actually that the computer can tell what you're doing," Ramsthel said.

It's not only the students doing the learning.

"The roles are reversed, where they are the teacher and I am the student. And I feel that that really empowers them in the learning process," said fifth-grade teacher Debbie Valentine.

Though the students are engaged, the country is facing a tech job crunch.

In fact, the Bureau of Labor estimates the U.S. is adding nearly 140,000 computing jobs every year. But only 40,000 college students graduate with a computer science degree.

Scot Bayless is the president of Play Habit in Bend, a computer programming company that designs video games.

He says it's about changing the way you think.

"The doors are starting to open, and kids are getting exposed to things that maybe they weren't exposed to before," Bayless said. "It has more to do with how you think than a specific academic configuration. That's the power of computers."

Learning these skills isn't just preparing students for the workforce. It's preparing them for life.

"It will be exciting to see which one of my students goes into programming or maybe this will spark some interest for their future and their education," Valentine said.

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And a Microsoft Research Connections official is visiting Culver and Redmond schools for coding projects. Read about it at:

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