The “Force” will be on the University of Central Florida’s side when it hosts an event to teach people about computer coding.
During this year’s Hour of Code, students, faculty and staff members and the community will see exclusive “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” footage and learn about the computer coding that’s involved with sci-fi films. Then, they’ll be challenged to write their own line of code using their cell phone, tablet or laptop.
Hour of Code is a national movement to bring awareness to coding. More than 100 million students created a computer code during last year’s event, which President Obama also participated in.
UCF is one of the more than 156,000 Hour of Code host sites from more than 180 countries. UCF’s event will start at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8, at the Education Complex Gym.
The event will be led by College of Education and Human Performance Assistant Professor Megan Nickels.
Prior to joining UCF, Nickels volunteered as an educator at a children’s hospital in Peoria, Ill. She saw firsthand how critically and terminally ill children such as those with cancer struggled with understanding math, so she introduced programmable robots that can be coded by the kids into her lessons.
The robots are named Dash and Dot, and they’re produced by Wonder Workshop. Children use tablets to code the behaviors of the robots, and teachers use the robots to expose children to STEM principles in a fun and interactive way.
While working on her Ph.D. in Chicago, Nickels studied how robots like Dash and Dot impacted the children’s understanding of math and overall well-being. She found that when the children were working on math with the robots, their blood pressure went down. The children also reported having less of a chemo brain or feeling foggy or forgetful while they programmed the robots.
Children from BASE Camp Children’s Cancer Foundation in Winter Park—where Nickels currently volunteers—will be at Hour of Code to share how the robots are helping them learn.
Hour of Code is free and part of the College of Education and Human Performance’s Computer Science Education Week.