‘Hour of Code’ at Keene Mill

‘Hour of Code’ at Keene Mill

Elementary school students write lines of code during the school day.

Keene Mill Elementary School Technology Specialist Brian Lachance instructs sixth grade students on how to get started during the “Hour of Code.”

Keene Mill Elementary School Technology Specialist Brian Lachance instructs sixth grade students on how to get started during the “Hour of Code.” Photos by Marissa Beale/The Connection


Students in David Foss’s sixth grade class work worked for an hour using a program that allowed them to manipulate functions within computer different games and activities.


While some students have coded before, for others the “Hour of Code” is their first introduction to the world of computer science.

With the increasing demand for software developers in today’s job market, and what some say is a decreasing interest in computer science at the college level, schools around the country and world worked to peak students’ interest in computer science during a weeklong learning initiative called the “Hour of Code.” Using fun and self-guided approaches, the “Hour of Code” gives students an early introduction to computer science basics, and one local school used this as a chance to bring coding into the classroom.

Keene Mill Elementary School in Springfield exposed all of its students, in some way, to coding during the week of Dec. 8-14, when the “Hour of Code” took place. Many students already seemed familiar with computer programming languages like JavaScript and HTML.

“It’s not hard to learn,” said sixth grader Kate Perry who was using JavaScript. “There are a bunch of tutorial videos. You start by learning how to make a square, and then how to make other shapes.”

Technology specialist, Brian Lachance assisted during “Hour of Code,” and guided teachers and students through the various web and app-resources available.

“This is our second year participating,” said Lachance. “The ‘Hour of Code’ website puts together web resources that are computer-based and app-based. I like to stick with apps for the younger grades because there are no logins, etc. These skills are going to be essential for our students to become productive members of the work force.”


Students in Erin Scanlon’s kindergarten class take turns going up to the SMART Board during their “Hour of Code.” “It shows them how to make a computer work and how to give it instructions,” said Mary Hennesy, Scanlon’s classroom assistant.

The endeavor is not an easy one, though.

“It takes a lot of planning,” said kindergarten teacher Kristen Wabuge. “The biggest challenge is the students who don’t know what to do when they don’t know what to do! We encourage them to try again and to problem-solve more.”

But students are consistently excited, and the “Hour of Code” has been shown effective for increasing students’ interest in technology.

“Last year we had a competition and would log all of the coding hours,” said sixth grade teacher Maura Madigan. “My daughter, here at the school, won last year and now wants to go into coding.” In addition to doing class presentations using programs like Prezi and Powerpoint, some students are even doing projects in code. “I expect to see a lot more coding this year,” said Madigan.

William Beavers, a student in Ben Rudolph’s sixth grade class, codes outside of school. “I started playing video games as any usual kid would, and then I had some ideas. Two years ago I started taking a ‘Scratch’ tutorial where I’d learn about coding after school. I’m sort of self-taught, but other times I look at those who have done it longer. I had a big problem with variables one time, but I figured it out.”

“I’ll probably stick with computer science,” said Lizzy Hicks, a sixth grade student who redesigned visual features in a game called “Flappy Bird.”

“I really want to get into this in middle school and high school,” said Mohamed Messouak.

One thing is for sure, coding is not leaving classrooms anytime soon. For more information about the “Hour of Code” and just how many students are coding, visit http://hourofcode.com/us.