CACTC hosts 'Hour of Code' for 4th and 5th graders

The Cranston Herald ·

On Friday, December 8, the fourth and fifth-grade students from Rhodes Elementary School and Oaklawn Elementary School arrived at the Cranston West school auditorium where they would begin a day of Hour of Code exploration through the Cranston Area Career and Technical Center (CACTC). While gathered in the auditorium they viewed the newest CACTC video, which briefly highlighted each of the CACTC programs at the school that will be available for the students to apply to as eighth-graders.

The event was organized by Aimee Duarte, teacher in the CACTC’s Interactive Digital Media program and Steven Scappaticci, science program supervisor for Cranston Public Schools, and also facilitated by CACTC Child Development teacher, Charlene Barbieri. It consisted of two, one-hour blocks of computer science exploration and application for each student. The students were split into ten groups and the groups each moved together to their CACTC stations, spending one hour in one CACTC program with high school students in those programs and one hour in the next, learning how computer science is applied in those programs and completing activities as they explored. Some of the activities were completed on the computer, and some were “unplugged” activities which required analytical, step-by-step thinking such as is used in computer science, while others showed how computer science is incorporated into their daily classroom work and future careers.

The programs that hosted students for an hour each were: Interactive Digital Media and Construction, Graphics and Aquaculture, Entrepreneurship and Pre-Engineering/Robotics, Child Development and Medical Pathways, CISCO Cyber Security/Digital Forensics and Computer Aided Drafting. Throughout the day, the Culinary Arts program prepared lunch for the students who would be eating in the Cranston West High School cafeteria at the end of the two-hour program.

“In our program the students worked online for the first part of the hour, doing a “Frozen” computer coding activity, and then for the second half of the hour they will be doing an ‘unplugged’ activity where they will be making gingerbread houses,” said Bethany Correia, teacher in the Child Development program. “It’s a hands-on activity which looks at coding and sequential steps in a different way. The students need to examine all of the supplies available to them and come together to work step-by-step to gather the supplies, and follow the steps to make their gingerbread houses as they wrote the steps, and see how they come out.”

Similarly, in the Construction program, the students worked in small groups to create Lego shelters which needed to fit a given criteria for having specific details such as windows, doors and a roof, just as a real-life shelter would need to have.

While visiting the Pre-Engineering/Robotics program the students partnered with their high school mentors to create code, which would program a robotic arm to pick and place objects.

“It’s just like creating a line of poetry, just on a smaller scale,” said Edd Spidell, Pre-Engineering/Robotics teacher.

While the students worked in pairs, Spidell used a laser-cutting machine housed in the program to create wooden challenge coins, which the elementary students would receive at the end of the hour, recognizing their work.

At the end of the day, all students were given certificates of completion for their participation in the day’s events.