Hour of Code 2019: CodeSnaps and the Sustainable Development Goals

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This year the Hour of Code theme is #CSforgood, with a focus on the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We're very excited about this theme because we believe computer science and technology play an important role in solving the world's biggest problems. But the first step in empowering the next generation of problem-solvers to take on these important challenges is to teach them about the SDGs. The following Hour of Code activities build introductory coding skills using CodeSnaps, while teaching important concepts related to the SDGs.

Dance with Sphero. (Global Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being) The World Health Organization recommends school-age children worldwide get at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day to support good health and well-being. Physical activity in children is tied to important health outcomes including improved muscular and cardiovascular health as well as reducing depression and anxiety while increasing opportunities to build social confidence. It can be hard to find time for physical activity during the school day, but you can get your students moving by having them dance with a robot. Students can work in small groups to design a dance routine that they and their robot will perform together. Students write the code to have their robot perform the dance and dance along when they're ready to test it out. If it works as expected, great! Add on to the routine and keep dancing! If not, students can debug their code and everyone tries again.

grid activity with renewable and non-renewable energy sources

sample grid

Identifying Sources of Renewable Energy. (Global Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy) Our use of many non-renewable energy sources is not only unsustainable, but damaging our planet. In this activity students show their understanding of the difference between renewable and non-renewable energy sources by navigating their robot through a grid by only going through areas that have renewable energy sources. To start this activity the instructor will need to create a grid on the floor and label each square with a source of energy, ensuring that there is a path through (without diagonals) that only contain renewable energy sources. Students will work in teams to first identify the correct path and then write the code to get their robot to successfully navigate the path.

Food Chains and Biomagnification. (Global Goal 14 & 15: Life Below Water and Life on Land) One way human activity threatens life below water and life on land is our use of pesticides and other chemicals. These chemicals are especially dangerous to species at the top of the food chain due to increased concentrations in higher trophic levels. This process is called biomagnification. You can help students understand the dangers of biomagnification through coding. On the ground, set out images or labels of animals in a food chain. Students should write code to navigate from the bottom of the food chain, through each species, until they reach the top. As an added challenge, they can change the color of the robot to match the concentration of chemicals as they get further and further along the food chain.

a sample food chain

coding through the food chain

If you're inspired to use any of these Hour of Code lessons, or build your own, using CodeSnaps, we'd love to hear about it! Share it with us on twitter @saseducator. Happy coding!

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About Author

Jen Sabourin

Jen Sabourin is a software developer and research scientist with Curriculum Pathways. She works on developing innovative educational tools and understanding how these tools can best be used to support learners. She joined the team in 2010 as an intern while working on her PhD in Computer Science at North Carolina State University. Both in her graduate work and on the Curriculum Pathways team she focuses on how artificial intelligence and data mining can be used to drive innovation in educational technologies. Outside of work she loves DIY, cooking, and hanging out with her husband and new baby.

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