Youngstown library class teaches kids to program computer


By William K. Alcorn

alcorn@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Computer-literate young people learned the basics of computer coding, or programming, during an intense, but fun, hands-on, hour-long class Saturday at the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County.

During the class at the library’s main branch, taught by Pam Brockway, youth services librarian, kids from grades three to seven, delved into not what computers can do, but how to make them do what one wants.

Coding, said Brockway of North Lima, is written instructions that make computers operate.

“The goal of the class is to introduce the skill of computational thinking. Our overall goals are to develop logic, problem-solving and creativity,” said Brockway, who holds a master’s degree in library science from Kent State University.

A maze game, with 20 parts, was what the students, with intense concentration and excitement for success, tried to conquer while learning what it means to program a computer.

Among the students were the three sons of Sharon Cross of Columbiana: Scott, seventh grade; Dominic, fifth grade, and Louis, fourth grade – all of whom she home schools.

Cross praised the library for “a program I couldn’t offer” her kids.

After the hour of despair and celebration solving the mazes, her sons had different reactions to the class.

“I have a new appreciation for all the work that goes into creating a program. I might want to be a programmer,” said Scott.

“It was less complicated or tough as I thought it would be,” said Dominic, who liked the “Congratulations” received from the computer when he finished a maze.

“It got harder as we went along,” said Louis.

“It was not as hard as it looked, but everything on the computer usually looks harder than it is,” said Evan Brockway, fourth-grade son of Brockway.

Brockway said if people want to learn about coding they can visit the “Hour of Code” website. She said her class uses the Google Blocky, one of hundreds of computer programming languages, because it is one of the least complicated.

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