CS is Everywhere: Coding in Your Art/Music/PE Classroom

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"Creating things with your hands, or creating code, creating programs, are just different ways to express creativity."

– Elena Silenok, Founder, Clothia



Having a hard time figuring out how to fit in an Hour of Code this year? Feeling left out of the fun because you are an art, music, or PE teacher. Never fear – coding and computational thinking are everywhere! Here are some ideas for hosting an Hour of Code in your art, music, or PE classroom...or gym!

Art

Rarely do we link art and computer science in the same thought. One is typically associated with boundless creativity while the other seems to bring to mind rigid, logical thought. However, growing fields like graphic design, 3D modeling/simulation, user interface design all require an artistic mind. Even traditional art (think: repetitive strokes) can be created using robots. So who says the Hour of Code doesn't belong in the art classroom? Here are some plugged and unplugged ideas...just don't spill paint on the iPads!

Plugged

  • Pencil Code (grades 3+): An open studio for students to create their own drawings with a simple drag-and-drop coding interface.
  • Khan Academy (ages 10+): A structured Hour of Code lesson that guides students as they create their own drawings.
  • Bitsbox (K-5): A structured Hour of Code lesson where students create their own painting studio app.
  • Code.org (all ages): A way to explore the geometry of art with the Frozen and Artist Hour of Code lessons.

Unplugged

  • CS Unplugged (ages 8+): Students "program" their partner to create specified drawings.
  • CS Unplugged (ages 8+): In this lesson, students learn to represent digital images the way computers process them.

Music

In many ways, western musical notation mirrors computer code quite well. Musicians read sheet music. Sheet music contains a series of instructions written in a well-defined language establishing things like instrumentation, duration, and pitch. Computer code, again a series of instructions (in this case read by a computer instead of a cellist), can be one of many well-defined computer languages that adhere to rules of notation and syntax, not unlike a Bach chorale.

Music, like a computer, has an underlying linguistic and structural logic which often goes unnoticed. As Duke Ellington famously put it, “if it sounds good, it is good,” suggesting that our ears are naturally tuned to appreciate the elegance and pattern present in well-written music. This shared love of musical patterns even shows up in our top 40 hits, where songs so often follow a basic algorithm of alternating verse and chorus, a bridge section for some variation, and a return to the familiar chorus.

These similarities between music and computing – both linguistic and structural – make music theory, including musical form, a natural instructional tool for computational thinking. Below you'll find both plugged and unplugged ideas for getting your music students involved in the Hour of Code. And here's a fun video of an iPhone orchestra to get your students excited!

Plugged

Unplugged

  • Code a repetitive song on paper. Repetitive children's songs make a great instructional tool for coding.  For example, here's how one teacher coded "The Hokey Pokey."

Want to go beyond the Hour of Code? Google's CS First program has an entire 8-week music + sound coding curriculum.

PE

We've all seen a headline that suggests computers are killing us slowly by making our lives increasingly sedentary. So if you're a PE coach, you're likely trying to get as far away from the Hour of Code as you can. Not so fast! Here are some great unplugged lessons to get your students up and moving...and coding!

  • Create an obstacle course in the gym. Have students write a program for navigating through the course. Then, try it out. Ask students to volunteer to navigate through the course following the program as written. Debug, iterate, and take turns!
  • Throw a dance party. Working in pairs, students code their own dance, program other dancers, and put on a performance!

Computer science is everywhere...even where you least expect it. Join in the Hour-of-Code fun and share your experiences using #HourofCode. But, most importantly, have fun!

computerScienceEdWeek2015

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About Author

Lucy Kosturko

Lucy Kosturko is a curriculum development specialist and research scientist with Curriculum Pathways. She primarily develops and evaluates content for the team's suite of mobile applications. She joined the team in 2013 after earning a PhD in educational psychology from North Carolina State University. During her graduate work, she specialized in self-regulated learning, reading comprehension, and educational technology. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their dogs, Pig and Job.

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