Friday, February 28, 2014

6th Grade P.A.C.T. Students Discover the Art of Computer Science

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By Peggy Chapman

Most people think of computer programmers as people who sit alone at their computers all day.  As our sixth grade students are learning, the art of computer science is much more engaging and collaborative.  

Sixth Grade Students enrolled in the Technology 6 Course at P.A.C.T. are gaining a clear understanding of what computer science is and how it can be helpful in their lives.

On Tuesday, February 25th, students began to learn about bits, bytes, and nibbles as they were exposed to vocabulary unique to computer science.  They began to learn how computers read and store data. It has been said, “the best computer scientists understand what it’s like to “be” a computer.” After students learned these pieces of vocabulary, they were handed a  Binary Decoder Key and taught the method a computer uses to store data.  

Computers format everything as some representation of on and off. The students figured out the binary key and encoded their initials on a 4 X 4 binary grid.  Once they were comfortable on the grid, they encoded their own “secret message” which was shared with classmates to decode. P.A.C.T. Students began to understand what it’s like to “be” a computer.

Even if you are not a computer programmer, your students can be. Lessons that teach your student how to code are available for free on

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