Manitoba

Winnipeg students chat with Jessica Alba for Hour of Code

Winnipeg students got a chance to talk tech with Jessica Alba Wednesday afternoon as part of Computer Science Education Week.

Hollywood actress Jessica Alba works to get young women involved in tech

Dalhousie School students work on iPads before talking to Jessica Alba about coding. (Teghan Beaudette/CBC)
Winnipeg students got a chance to talk tech with Jessica Alba Wednesday afternoon as part of Computer Science Education Week.
Jessica Alba is an ambassador for Hour of Code and encourages young women to get involved in tech. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/Associated Press)

Dalhousie students are part of 57,000 classrooms worldwide that are doing an Hour of Code event this week, in which students get a brief introduction to coding.

The event is meant to introduce kids to computer science and help them with problem solving, logic and creativity.

“It’s good for kids right for kindergarten right up to high school,” said Jennifer Bracken, school’s vice principal. “I think it’s great … kids get to create things and see what they’ve created. They love it.”

Alba is an ambassador for Hour of Code, along with Bill Gates and Ashton Kutcher, who works to specifically encourage girls to get involved in tech.

She video chatted with a handful of schools across Canada and the United States for about half an hour. She fielded questions about why it’s important for young women to learn code and if anyone in the movie industry actually needs code.
Jessica Alba took questions from students across Canada and the United States as part of Hour of Code events on Wednesday. (Teghan Beaudette/CBC)

Sixth grader Emily McMyn got to personally ask Alba a question and is looking forward to getting a chance to do more coding later this week at her school.

“I think it’s really fun actually. I think it’s really cool how you can work with computers to make your own apps and websites,” she said. “My mom told me once, ‘You should learn coding.’ … Usually [girls] think it’s like the guys who know all the computer stuff and are strong. I think she just wants more girls to get involved with it.”

The entire school division, which includes 13,000 students, will spend an hour learning code on Friday.

“Earlier one of the students said they do most of their learning at home because now with online resources it’s really easy to do at home,” said David Wall, the educational technology consultant for the school division. “I’m trying to promote groups of teachers learning how to code so they’re at least a step ahead of the students.”

Isaiah Huska is a Grade 5 student at Dalhousie School and spends time brushing up on code alone at home. He uses Khan Academy, an educational site for kids, to figure out coding.

“My dad kind of introduced me to [coding] and I just go and watch more videos and I just get better,” he said.
Emily Mcmyn got to ask Jessica Alba a question during the half-hour Hour of Code talk. Mcmyn says she's looking forward to doing more coding later this week. (Teghan Beaudette/CBC)

Huska said it was nice to get a chance to do it in school and cool to hear a celebrity talk about it.

“It was really interesting,” he said, adding he cared more about the coding than seeing Alba. “I’m working on a website that I’m going to do. It’s a game website … like Pac-Man and airplane games.”

Wall said students are hungry for the knowledge, but the curriculum isn’t keeping up with them, so the school division is trying to change that.

“We’re trying to write our own coding continuum for K to 8,” he said. “Every day I go into schools and somebody’s like, ‘Hey, can you teach me to write Java because Minecraft is written in Java.’”

The division is now working on other ways to get coding education into classrooms for younger students.

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