Sullivan students exposed to real-world technology, programming language

Posted December 9, 2013 6:59 pm | Filed under Featured, Local News
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DSC_3270Andrew Kiel | WRHI.com
Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter.

While their missions are vastly different, there’s a common thread between them all: technology is at the center of their core. Specifically, there are millions of lines of code written, modified and used every hour to accomplish their uses.

Students at Sullivan Middle School in Rock Hill had an hour — known as the Hour of Code — to delve into that technology Monday.

Students in Kenyatta Mitchell’s Computer Science Academy have spent the entire semester learning about computer hardware and software — from the complex motherboards, hard drives and memory to building applications in a variety of programming languages.

“This is the first here we’ve had the Computer Science Academy,” Mitchell said. “I saw a video late one night of a computer science class in another state. And I wondered, ‘Why don’t we have one?’”

With permission from principal Michael Waiksnis, Mitchell launched the class, which received too many applicants for the first year. The class currently has 22 students enrolled.

Monday, Mitchell and her students kicked off the celebration of Computer Science Education week with the Hour of Code. Engineers from high-tech global firms have developed games that teach basic programming principles to between 3-4 million students across the globe.

Students took part in a panel discussion with Information Technology experts from Winthrop University and Rock Hill-based 3D Systems. The company makes three-dimensional printers used in a variety of industries.

Wedged around the instruction, Mitchell’s students left her classroom to speak to other grade levels across Sullivan, serving as technology ambassadors and teaching students about coding, how it works and how it is used in daily life.

Those ambassadors also explain the gap between the number of computer science jobs currently available and the number of positions currently filled.

With help from Winthrop University, Mitchell’s students receive instruction on how to develop apps for popular software platform, including iOS devices which are already widely used across Rock Hill School District Three.

“If you don’t use it — you lose it,” Mitchell said. “With Winthrop’s help we were able to learn how to build an app.”

Mitchell said she and Waiksnis are now trying to address the lack of computer programming classes available in the district.

“It just doesn’t stop this year,” Mitchell said. “We just keep feeding that [computer science] industry to our students.”

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