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    Amazon Future Engineer Hosts Hour of Code at Franklin High School
    Posted on 12/16/2019
    A student works at a computer during the hour of code. On the screen "Dance Party" text is visible.

    Amazon Future Engineer Hosts Hour of Code at Franklin High School

    On Thursday, December 12, students and staff at Franklin High School welcomed over 100 volunteers from Amazon who led an Hour of Code event, sponsored by Amazon Future Engineer, a comprehensive childhood-to-career program aimed at increasing access to computer science education for millions of children and young adults from underserved and underrepresented communities. Volunteers took time to introduce themselves to students, talking about their education and work experiences and how computer science plays a crucial role in the work they do every day.

    Volunteers led all 1,200 students across 70 classrooms through an online Hour of Codetutorial where students created a Dance Party, all through coding. Dance Party is an online, gamified activity that combines coding, music, fun animated characters, and dance to help show students that coding can be used in many aspects of their education.

    The Hour of Code at Franklin High School was originally started last year by math teacher Erin Burkhart.

    “I attended a professional development course over the summer titled CS for Teachers at the University of Washington, which introduced this Hour of Code concept,” Burkhart said. “And I thought, ‘I think our kids need these opportunities! Especially those students who don’t have access to these types of activities.’”

    When she returned to Franklin that fall, Burkhart added it to the school’s administrative calendar. As luck would have it, a CTE teacher at Franklin, Eric Faulkner, ran the idea past someone at Amazon, and a partnership was created. This year, even the CEO of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Andy Jassy, came to Franklin to discuss computer science and robotics with students.

    Along with the Hour of Code exercise, students participated in a FIRST Robotics Show and Tell. Four of Franklin’s FIRST Robotics teams were able to showcase their robots and explain how they build, program, and operate them. Students also led AWS’ Andy Jassy through demonstrations of the work they’ve done, and even offered other Amazon volunteers an opportunity to drive their robots. Robots were moving around the room lifting objects, navigating through obstacles, and even battling each other.

    This annual event is a great opportunity for students to learn about the importance of computer science and how it can be applied in many different ways, no matter which career path a student chooses. Since the Hour of Code launched globally in November 2018, over 18 million students have participated in the activity. The sponsor, Amazon Future Engineer, is focused on providing access for more students and prioritizes schools with Title I funding and schools that serve students furthest from educational justice. In one classroom a student was overheard exclaiming, “You can create a dance party just by using code!? I thought it was just for websites!” This reaction, as well as the excitement of other students as they participated in the event, makes teachers (and Amazon volunteers) want to have a dance party of their own.

    Thank you to the teachers and administrators who organized and made this event possible for Franklin High School students, to Amazon and their many volunteers for giving their time to help students learn, to First Robotics for providing students with ways to expand their knowledge of computer science in creative and exciting ways, and to the students themselves whose passion and curiosity make this event so remarkable.

    Learn more about the Hour of Code.