Hour of Code returns to in-person event

It was Lincoln’s first in-person Hour of Code event since 2019.
Published: Dec. 3, 2022 at 7:44 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - It was Lincoln’s first in-person Hour of Code event since 2019, and judging by the amount of curious squints and smiles, Lincoln’s students have been eager to get back to it.

“I love it here,” said Tatum Placke, a 9-year-old code enthusiast. “I love here right now.”

Placke wasn’t alone in that sentiment.

“My favorite part is like touching things and coding them,” said Ezekiel Olson, a 8-year-old code enthusiast.

About two dozen tables lined the walls of the Nebraska Innovation Campus Conference Room. Representatives from various community organizations like University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Lincoln Public Schools came to showcase computer science to elementary and middle school kids.

“This is a great opportunity for students and adults to learn about coding and all of the opportunities that come with computer science education and coding,” said Kate Engel, director of strategic partnership and communication for Nebraska Innovation Campus.

The event was free to the public, and more than 600 people registered for the event that ran from 9 a.m. to noon. The first floor gave students lessons in coding; the second floor brimmed with activities, aiming to instill the value of computer science in the next generation.

“When you’re starting, you get that head start,” said Matt Rinne, an LPS K-5 computer science teacher. “You can learn those foundations and then everything can kind of build off of that and you can really set yourself up for the future.”

Some booths featured projects made by real-life coding like the UNL Aerospace Club’s Lunabotics craft, which was designed for a competition that simulates digging on the moon’s surface.

“Their faces will light up when they see how a robot can move and it’s cool because, I don’t know, I didn’t see anything like this when I was a kid,” said Angeline Luther, a UNL junior and Lunabotics team leader. “And just them knowing at this age that ‘oh, these are things that I can do.’”

It’s a place to belong for kids with different interests. Tatum is on the autism spectrum, and she said she likes to think outside the box when it comes to coding.

“Oh, maybe I made a problem right here or a problem right here,” Placke said. “It helps me to debug a little bug. I see it before it happens and I go, ‘Oh, this might not go well.’”

This coming week is Computer Science Education Week.