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Students take first steps to solving larger problems

Teacher Tom Ahlschwede organized the event, but it was students who came to him asking to sponsor a computer science club.

Now those students are the ‘help desk’ for this Hour of Code event at Lincoln East High School.

While they check out computers and help fellow students get started writing code, Ahlschwede provides the context for the students from various classes:

“One of you might cure cancer. One of you might figure a way to get a person to Mars, or figure out how to get out of the billion-trillion dollar debt. One of you might figure that out. This week, across the world, students are doing this (Hour of Code), so I am glad you are a part of it.”

Students can pick from a variety of Hour of Code challenges, most designed to have students think their way through a problem using visual coding and algorithms. At this point, the concepts are more visual like building blocks, and act sort of like a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get).

The students seem to pick it up right away. Themes range from Minecraft to ‘Moana’ - and challenges from the past involving characters from ‘Frozen.’

All of the hours from students throughout the Lincoln community are totalled and ranked against cities from across the world. In 2015, Lincoln finished fourth.

“I’m completely nerded out, completely geeked out, but we don’t have any computer science classes at East now,” said Ahlschwede, who currently teaches calculus and other math classes. “We’ll be offering some computer science classes for next year, so we are trying to build some interest.”

Ahlschwede - and many other supporters of computer science educators - demonstrate how thinking like a computer programmer benefits far more people than just those employed as computer scientists.

The critical thinking and problem-solving skills developed are useful in any career.

“Somewhere there is someone behind the scenes making all that run, like forecasts and simulations,” he said.

“We’re going to cure cancer. It’s a math problem that we can solve, and it going to take problem solvers. Might be this generation, might be the next generation.”


Published: December 6, 2016, Updated: December 6, 2016

“One of you might cure cancer. One of you might figure a way to get a person to Mars, or figure out how to get out of the billion-trillion dollar debt. One of you might figure that out. This week, across the world, students are doing this (Hour of Code), so I am glad you are a part of it.”

Tom Ahlschwede
East High math teacher

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