Coding Hour

Instructor Angela Sheets helps 6th grader Brandon Alvarado work with his Minecraft coding 

OTTUMWA — Children spend hours playing video games trying to achieve a high score or win the game. Many of them do not stop and realize the time and work that goes into creating each game.

This is the premise behind the nationwide Hour of Coding initiative. Over the course of two days students at Evans Middle School were given time in their math classes to practice coding some of their favorite games.

Instructor Angela Sheets said, “Instead of consumers, we want the students to be creators.”

Coding is the process that software designers use to create characters, games and even websites. Data shows that in Iowa there are 4,060 open computing jobs which means students pursuing coding will be looking at high job demand.

The website provided the students with instructional videos and a hints that helped them progress through each level. The students could choose from Frozen, Minecraft, Flappy Bird and Star Wars.

Some of the games started off with coding character movements or building houses.

Sixth-grader Dennis Johnson opted to work with the Frozen demo which was the hardest one of the four, asking students to include 120 degree angles into some of the coding instructions.

“I like learning the new codes and working through each level.”

Johnson had previous experience with coding at his old school in Chicago but many of the other students had never even heard of coding until that day.

When the sessions began many of the children said, “I don’t get this” or “This does not make sense.” Over time the students began to establish a rhythm and realized each code was not as hard as they thought.

This is the first year that Evans has participated in this event along with James, Eisenhower and Liberty Elementary. About 1,000 students were a part of this hour event.

Overall Sheets was excited by the progress that she has seen among the students as each coding hour went on.

“The critical thinking that is happening in these classrooms is incredible.”

To contact reporter Neal Querio email her at and follow her on Twitter @CourierNeal