FPS learns, helps earn world record

Two Farragut Primary School second-grade classes joined students from more than 50 local schools in trying to break the Guinness Book of World Records for the most students simultaneously coding at the same time.

From 9:30 to 10 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 8, the classes of second-grade teachers Cara Gregg and Danielle Richardson gathered in FPS’s computer lab to code an animated picture.

“The kids are excited,” added Dee Goacher-Litrakis, FPS second-grade educational assistant in the school’s computer lab.

Second-grader John Williams, 8, said he feels “kind of good” about trying to break the world record for coding.

“I kind of know [what coding is],” he added.

“It’s where you try to make something, like a game, on the computer,” second-grade classmate Layla Compton said.

When asked how she felt about trying to break the world record, she responded, “Scared because I never did it before.”

Layla said she wanted to make a game about putting her name in a crossword puzzle and changing colors to make 10s.

“I like that there’s something you spell and tack on a color and the [spelling] changes colors,” John said.

The record to beat was 1,000, Goacher-Litrakis said.

“We just have two classes here. Farragut Intermediate has 12 classes participating,” she said.

FPS’s classes were part of a combined effort by students in Knox County and Oak Ridge and some area private schools, said Abbey Harris, Knox County Schools communications and events specialist.

“As of As of 2:15 p.m. [Nov. 8], 1,058 students had been verified as participating and meeting the standards and evidence required by Guinness,” Harris said.

Of the 50 schools involved in Knox County and Oak Ridge, 38 of those are elementary schools, Goacher-Litrakis said.

“The program we’re using to code is called ‘Scratch,’” said Theresa Nixon, KCS director of Educational Technology & Library Services. “It was developed by a group at [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] specifically for kids, so it’s very simple, basic, step-by-step coding.

“[The program] just gives the kids the opportunity to see that they can code. Science and technology is a huge part of the workplace’s and schools’ focus, so it’s very important to show kids at an early age that science and technology is fun and easy.”

Farragut Primary School has had a computer lab for nine years. The lab is part of an Encore, or special areas program, Goacher-Litrakis said.

“Just in the past few days, they have started introducing keyboarding and coding to kids at an earlier age, and this event was a good way to introduce coding to kids.”