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Bishop McCort, Divine Mercy Partner with Pitt-Johnstown to Promote Computer Coding, Phase II


The Divine Mercy/McCort team introduced basic and intermediate coding to the students.  Earlier this year, Pitt-Johnstown pioneered an innovative and potentially transformational project titled Computational-Learning Opportunities in a Digital Environment (CODE) in partnership with local schools.  Through the CODE initiative, Pitt-Johnstown seeks to introduce young people to coding as well as how to use coding skills to improve critical thinking and problem solving skills across all areas of learning.  A major area of emphasis is using Pitt-Johnstown's CODE method to enhance teaching and learning in math and other STEM areas so as to improve educational outcomes.

“Coding skills are so important in today’s world”, noted Divine Mercy/Bishop McCort Computer Technology teacher, Mark Anderson.  “Today’s children will use coding skills like the previous generation used Excel, PowerPoint, and Word, in both their personal and professional lives.  Students from grades 7 to 12 really enjoyed delving into the power of coding to create/modify animated stories and video games while learning”.  Ms. Roxanne Jenner from the Pitt-Johnstown CODE initiative worked particularly with 7th through 12 graders using the new 30 Chromebook laptop computers that Divine Mercy/McCort purchased this fall, while other students used upgraded desktop computers in two other computer labs.

Sixty-seven Divine Mercy and McCort students participated in Phase I of this program on December 13 and 21.  During today's event each Divine Mercy Middle School and McCort High School student created/modified their own game using an Hour of Code tutorial from Code.org or using Scratch block coding.  Students worked through various levels of coding concepts in JavaScript, Java, and block programming to design and build their own app or video game.

Over the past few years, Bishop McCort has strengthened its computer technology foundation, most recently with significant upgrades to all of its computer labs and enhancements to the high school curriculum that include classes in advanced HTML coding techniques and units on cybersecurity.  Bishop McCort students have also put their computer technology skills to use as competitors in the U.S. Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot competition.  This year, three CyberCrusher teams competed in the event and advanced to the state round of competition.  This is the eighth consecutive year that Bishop McCort has fielded teams in the national contest.  In addition, curriculum improvements as the 7th and 8th grade level include instruction in Scratch and Alice block coding for animated stories and video games.

“We believe that properly engaged, adequately supported and positively motivated, every child is capable of participating in the joy of exploration, the play of figuring things out, and the triumph of discovery as what once seemed puzzling is untangled, explained Pitt-Johnstown president, Jem Spectar.  “CODE provides a vehicle for students to create content, rather than just consume it and yes, to have fun while learning and being challenged in new ways.  We are thrilled to support Divine Mercy and Bishop McCort in this part of a comprehensive effort to prepare students to thrive in a digital economy.”

The Hour of Code is organized by Code.org, a non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented minority students.  The Bishop McCort and Divine Mercy program is one of more than 140,000 Hour of Code events that have been scheduled around the world during the 2017-18 school year.