Spreading computer science one hour at a time

Coding isn’t as hard as you think.

That was the message from Tahoma High computer science students and their teacher, Crystal Hess, last week during National Computer Science Education Week.

“It’s more about using the concepts,” said Bobby Steffler, a senior at Tahoma  High who is taking his second year of computer science at the school and is also the president of Programming Club. “Understanding that (the concepts) brings more order to your life.”

As part of the week students and community members took part in the national Hour of Code, an effort to get people of all ages to spend one hour learning code and raising awareness of the importance of computer science.

According to, in the United State nine out of 10 high schools don’t offer computer programming classes.

Hess said that when she started teaching at Tahoma almost 10 years ago there was an intro to computer science course and she was a part of expanding the program from there. Tahoma now offers AP Computer Science and College Programming. Hess said that this year there are 70 students signed up for the AP course and eight in the second year College Programming course.

“We basically just focused on getting people excited about the Hour of Code,” Hess said of her and her students’ efforts last week.

Those efforts paid off, 190 community members signed up for the Hour of Code and as a result, Hess said that the program will receive $1,000 for classroom supplies.

Also last weekend 20 Tahoma students participated in a programming contest at the University of Washington.

“It (computer science) teaches critical thinking and problem solving, and even if you aren’t going to be a coder for life, they’re good skills,” Hess said.

Junior Abigail Atchison, who is taking College Programming this year, said that she originally signed up for a computer science class because she thought it looked interesting and she discovered that she really enjoyed it.

“It’s like solving a bunch of different puzzles,” Atchison said. “A lot of people think it’s just gaming, but it has a lot more applications than that. Any field you can think of it applies to.”

Senior Gabe Thompson said that one of the things he enjoys about what he is learning in the AP class is that he gets to see the real world implications and applications for what he is learning.

“I do a lot of robotics,” Thompson said. He explained that does coding related to the robots. “It’s easy. You don’t have to be a genius to do it.”

For Steffler it’s the challenge in creating.

“Seeing the output on the screen — there’s something intrinsically interesting about seeing what you do appear on the screen, or, worse, not,” Steffler said.



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