Northsiders Take Part in the 2018 Hour of Code
By Lukas Hoffman
As Northside students filtered into the auditorium on the afternoon of Dec. 12, NCP Code Club members waited excitedly to share the details of Hour of Code, an annual event held around the world to make programming accessible to all. This year, club members instructed Northsiders on how to build their very own website in HTML. Students were told to choose any topic and spend an hour exploring and designing the best site they could, with a contest offering prizes to the best creation. However, before anyone could start working, they had to know the basics.
Code Club Leader Anton Outkine, Adv. 009, opened with a demo on how to make a basic website. “HTML is simple at its core, so you can build something really cool even without experience,” he said, showing how to edit the text on a webpage. Within minutes, he had transformed a blank white page into a monument to his hero, Richard Stallman, a famous software developer. Under his guidance, Northsiders learned how to change styles, colors, and add images to their websites. “Unlike some other programming languages, HTML works using a system of tags, which can be nested inside each other or given identities to help with specific styling,” Outkine explained. Along with the necessities for a functional site, Outkine also showed off some snippets of code allowing students to add flourishes to their creations. The most popular among these was the marquee, which causes text on a page to move back and forth. With these extra components, everyone was excited and ready to get going.
With their brief introduction complete, students got to work. Working on their own or in small groups, everyone decided on their topic, and put what Outkine taught them to use. Even after the demonstration ended, members of Code Club walked around offering help to those in need of it. Over the course of the next half an hour, submissions began to pour into the voting page. Creativity abounded, with topics ranging from the school music group NoKap Productions to the delicious taste of a Sprite Cranberry. Luis Acosta, Adv. 900, said, “Even though I’ve built websites before in Computer Science, it was refreshing to be able to create something of my choosing and just have fun with it, without worrying about a grade.” Acosta’s submission, dedicated to NoKap, proved popular with students of all grades, garnering many votes in the contest.
For some, this year’s Hour of Code was one of their first experiences with coding. Taber Skiba, Adv. 902, said, “I’ve always been more of an art person, so I haven’t gotten involved with coding before. Even so, I had a really good time and learned a lot.” Skiba created a politically-themed website, deviating from the content of most other submitted creations. After the Code Club presentation, even those like Skiba could build a website within the time constraints. “I was amazed by how simple the whole thing was, now that I know how, I could definitely do something like this again.”
After the hour of work time, Northsiders were instructed to submit their designs to a gallery, with an attached voting link. Students can vote as many times as they would like, albeit only able to vote for the same website once. Based on how the school responds, two winners will be chosen as having the best creations. First place will receive a 25 dollar Amazon gift card, while second will earn 10 dollars. Although the recipients have not yet been announced, with so many great options to choose from, it is hard to tell who will win. Even then, more value comes out of the lifelong knowledge gained from just one hour of practice, with an entire school’s coding skills improved by a fun and engaging activity.