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Area students teach coding to nursing home residents

News Enterprise - 12/7/2017

Residents of Helmwood Healthcare Center in Elizabethtown got a chance Tuesday to learn something new afternoon and spend time with area students during an Hour of Code event.

Brooke Whitlow, instructional technology coordinator for Hardin County Schools, said 10 students who attended a Shattered Glass initiative this summer and four programming students at the district's Early College and Career Center partnered to help residents of the nursing care facility understand computer coding.

The participants included students from Elizabethtown Independent and Hardin County school districts and homeschool students.

Chromebooks were set up for students to help residents through one of four activities on www.code.org.

Resident Ricka Bailey, 68, said Morningside Elementary School student Leah Macy, 11, was teaching her coding and it wasn't something she had ever thought about.

"Not at this age," Bailey said.

Leah said programming was being taught through a game as she took Bailey through different levels and showed her what blocks she could drag and drop into the code to program the game.

Bailey called Leah an "excellent teacher." Leah wants to be a mechanical engineer, chemical engineer or a teacher when she's older.

"I like to learn but, more than anything, I love this girl," Bailey said of the opportunity to spend the hour learning from Leah.

Whitlow said the community has been supportive of computer science initiatives, especially Shattered Glass which promotes diversity in computer-related fields. When Whitlow heard that Tuesday was International Volunteer Day, she wanted to do something to give back to the community.

"This is the purpose of the global Hour of Code movement," she said.

The goal is to engage all ages and demographics to show the world that computers and programming are not something that's exclusive and unavailable. As a bonus, residents get to spend an hour interacting with a student.

"I don't know a thing about computers, and I've never used one in my life," said Myrtle Swink, 78.

She was learning coding basics from Woodland Elementary School student Brooke Russo, 10.

"To me, it's all Greek, but I don't say I couldn't learn it," Swink said.

When asked if she thought she could learn about computers at her age, she replied, "Sure I can."

Swink said she's been able to learn most things she's attempted and always is learning a new crafting skill, picking them up rather quickly.

Swink said she had never thought about what she might use a computer for, but is willing to learn about them.

Brooke said she liked helping others during the event.

"She'd be a great teacher," Swink said, when discussing a future career for Brooke.

Helmwood Activities Director Debby Jennings said the Hour of Code was a good intellectual activity for residents, and they seemed to be engaged in what the girls were teaching and enjoyed the one-on-one attention from the students.

"I think it's great for them because, first of all, it's children and the residents love children," Jennings said. "They may not necessarily know computers, but it's something new for them to do."

Rianna Rivera, 11, sat with Cecil Buckner, 85, to teach him how to code a game.

"It's all right, really educational," Buckner said.

He said he was glad the girls were learning about computers now while they are young, and it is good to see them learning in this kind of field.

"Computers can get a little bit annoying sometimes," said Rianna, a homeschool student.

She said she's interested in an engineering field and computers are a part of that.

"I think coding is something I do want to do in the future," she said.

Buckner said that idea "sounds good."

Hardin County Schools partnered with DXC Technology for the Hour of Code initiative.

"We are on a mission to show that there are no boundaries to STEM fields," Whitlow said. "Not age, not gender and not even county lines or school districts."

Other Hour of Code projects will take place in classrooms across the district, she said.

For more information, go to www.shatteredglass.io.

 
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