The Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) Office of Technology and the CCPS department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) recently hosted the inaugural Starkey Can Code event to bring technology and STEM education awareness to staff at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building.

Darryl Joyner Educational leadership executive at Apple Inc., shows Richard Conley, executive director of school administration, how to code on Apple Swift Playgrounds. Credit: Charles County Public Schools

Last month, the boardroom at the Starkey building transformed into a coding playground and learning center for staff members. They had an opportunity to stop by for a quick break from their normal workday to try their hand in beginner, intermediate and more advanced coding activities with stations including BeeBots, Angry Birds coding through and digital escape rooms. CCPS staff members and event sponsors hosted various stations around the room.

One of the activities was a digital coding escape room, a coding version of the popular game in which a team of players are required to solve a series of puzzles within a certain amount of time to unlock the room. Teams in the boardroom worked together to crack the code.

“It was interesting to see how much goes into making these coding programs and all the things you could create from them,” Alicia Sweatt, CCPS secretary for fine and performing arts home and hospital and special programs, said. “It required some thinking, but it was a lot of fun.” Some players could see the correlation between the coding version and the in-person version of escape rooms. “I really liked the activity. It felt like an escape room but for coding,” Heather Bryant, CCPS related services agency liaison for teaching and learning, said.

Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) staff members try to break out of the digital coding escape room at the inaugural Starkey Can Code event. Credit: Charles County Public Schools

The purpose of the event was to encourage adults to learn an element of computer coding and to learn more about coding in CCPS. Laura Metz, CCPS instructional technology specialist, said that another goal of the event was to share with staff members how coding has real-world applications, including skills to increase college and career readiness for CCPS students. “Starkey Can Code would be a day where everyone that worked in our administration building, including staff in finance, building services, food and nutrition, and human resources, were invited to play,” Metz said.

Representatives from Apple, Inc., and DALY Computers Inc., attended the event and provided materials such as iPads and technology freebies for staff members. Staff walked away with new HD web cameras for their desktop computers, desktop keyboards and drink tumblers.

Other event sponsors included the Maryland Center for Computing Education, Codi, Ozobots, BeeBots, Java and Python.

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