Farragut ‘codes’ to world record

FIS students ‘had the inspiration’ to contribute

Farragut Intermediate students, from left, Jaycee Hatton, Ella Fowler and Channing Hurley work on the coding exercise that helped Knox County and Oak Ridge schools combine to secure a world record Wednesday, Nov. 8.
How many people can say they broke a world’s record?

Turns out, as of last week, more than 1,000 students in the Knoxville area can do just that.

Select Knox County Schools’ students, including pupils at Farragut Intermediate, Northshore Elementary and Farragut Primary, along with students from Oak Ridge City Schools and several private schools, helped break the world record for simultaneous coding last Wednesday, Nov. 8.

About 1,050 students from the various campuses were confirmed to have participated in the 30-minute exercise using an MIT program known as “Scratch.”

That number broke the previous record of 1,000 students learning code, according to Theresa Nixon, director of Educational Technology & Library Services for Knox County Schools.

The event had been in the planning stages since at least April, Nixon said in an e-mail, as she explained how Knoxvillians Brandon Bruce, COO of Cirrus Insight and Caleb Fristoe, manager of CodeTN, brought the idea to the school system.

“[They] had the inspiration,” she wrote. “They were intrigued that we had set a record with the largest football game (in Bristol) and the largest letter (the Power T at Neyland Stadium, and wondered if we could set a record in our community by having the most number of students learning to code.”

Already, Knox County School students have been introduced to the concept of coding at various grade levels.

“Coding promotes creativity, communication and problem solving,” said Anett Romer, technology teacher at Northshore Middle School, who oversaw participants from first- through fifth-grades in last week’s exercise.

“It is just so exciting that our students can be part of this,

and help promote and focus on the need for [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math]

instruction in our schools.”

About 260 FIS students

participated.

FIS Librarian Sarah Campbell led a class of third-graders through the exercise in the school’s library, while 10

other classes, and one in the technology lab also took part.

By following a YouTube video, the class followed the step-by-step instructions, engaging the students during the 30-minute lesson through the use of sound and animation.

“This was not about how fast they could code, it was all about students learning to code,” said Campbell, who noted the students with whom she worked Wednesday had never been exposed to coding before.

“For [this class] it was brand new,” she added.

Campbell said she “was really excited” about the attempt to shatter the record.

Students enjoyed the process, too.

“It was really fun,” said third-grader Natalie Paul after the

exercise.

“It was great,” agreed her classmate Nora Almashharawi.

Even FIS PE teacher Jackie Dutton — who assisted Campbell as a witness to and monitor of the attempt — was excited.

“It was really cool to [attempt to break] the world record, and for all the kids to be a part of it,” she said.

While it is an achievement the students, and the district, can remember and boast about in the years ahead, it is unknown how the record will be further publicized beyond the Guinness World Records Certificate the District received last week.

“I don’t know if it will make the book or not,” said Abby Harris, communications and events specialist with Knox County Schools. “According to their [Guinness World Records] website, there are only about 4,000 records in the book each time, and about 40K records in the data base.”