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Microsoft Guest Enriched “Hour of Code”

1/6/2016

As you may know, each December features the worldwide "Hour of Code", which is a non-profit program, "dedicated to expanding access to computer science with the vision of every student in every school having the opportunity to learn it."

Our district was very fortunate to have Mr. Vidhu Janardhanan, a Senior Program Manager from Microsoft working on an Enterprise Security Platform, visit several schools on Thursday, December 10, to provide an overview of "Hour of Code" as well as interact and help students not only successfully create code but learn how to use it more efficiently while they were working on Minecraft, Frozen or Star Wars.

Mr. Vidhu, as he likes to be called, was very excited to be with our students; his goal is to inspire kids to learn code. He started his day in Ms. Nowlin's 6th grade Digital Exploration class, which explores SketchUp, Scratch, SOS FBI, and Digital Citizenship along with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Publisher. Mr. Vidhu described his background and explained some points about coding, but he also made himself available to answer questions students had while working on their games and showed some students how to make their code more efficient, getting the same result with less code.

During Mr. Vidhu's presentations he asked the students "What can you do with coding?", and some answers were "I thought of my phone" (phone apps), "a new way of talking to the computer", "turning numbers into something else", "hacking", "giving a computer instructions to do things", "a code to open a box or safe", "puzzle pieces" and "video games". He explained that coding is about collaboration, teamwork, and working together to make things. Coding is also about problem solving, working together to solve a problem. Examples Mr. Vidhu gave the students were Uber, Microsoft, Facebook and school buses. Uber's co-founders, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, wanted to find an alternative to taxies, so they created the Uber app and now they are worth billions! Bill Gates started Microsoft because he wanted to make productivity better, and Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, wanted to speak with friends and what do you know, Facebook was born! Mr. Vidhu also related coding to school bus schedules and routes letting the students know that there is software behind the way students go to and from school.

Mr. Vidhu also explained to the students that he is from India where he earned a Bachelor of Technology, which is the equivalent of a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science in the United States as well as an Advanced Computing post graduate diploma. While earning his Bachelor's degree, he had not performed much coding on a computer until his first job. (In fact, in his college classes there were five computers for 42 students!) He went from being an engineer to learning to code websites and then software to now working on security platforms to help people be protected on the web.

He really focused on teaching the students that whatever their interests are; coding can bring those interests to life. Mr. Vidhu said, "Build something awesome that reflects what you care about". "Kids now are exposed to a lot of opportunities which they should utilize to create things they are passionate about".

After his visit with Ms. Nowlin's Digital Exploration class at Enumclaw Middle School, he visited Mr. Lovellford's class and Mr. Kilmer's Technology/Woodworking/CAD and Digital Design class at Enumclaw High School, next spending time with many 3rd through 5th grade students at Southwood and Kibler.

Throughout the day, there were many smiling and attentive faces showing excitement and appreciation for Mr. Vidhu's visit. His desire to inspire students with coding appeared to be very successful, and we are very fortunate that he volunteered his time to enrich "Hour of Code" for our students.

photo collage of students and Mr. Vidhu