Published January 29, 2020


LYNNFIELD — A technology company’s employees gave Lynnfield Middle School sixth-graders and seventh-graders a crash course in the world of coding on Jan. 22.

The middle school and Ping Identity, a software security company, joined forces in order to expose sixth and seventh grade students to the world of coding as part of the Hour of Code. The Hour of Code strives to give students a one-hour introduction to computer science by teaching coding basics.

Ping Identity employees Eamon Murphy, Keith Pettit, Jeff Kobel and Tim Doherty each gave a coding lesson in sixth and seventh grade science classes.

“We are doing an Hour of Code for kids,” said Murphy. “The idea is to give them some exposure about how coding can be fun and how it’s not too complex. We are trying to get students really excited about technology.”

SIXTH-GRADERS David Glynn (left) and Caden Mendese enjoyed participating in the Hour of Code in Danielle DiTonno’s science class on Jan. 22. (Dan Tomasello Photo)

In order to get students excited about programming, Murphy said the students played a variety of games provided by

“The idea of the Hour of Code is to really get students engaged by using programs that are fun,” said Murphy. “The students are playing games such as ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Minecraft’ and ‘Harry Potter.’ They are getting to see that coding can be fun by playing a game.”

Digital Learning Coach Sarah Perkins agreed.

“ is the same organization whose programs our elementary students are using,” said Perkins. “The nice thing about this is these kids were exposed to the Hour of Code at the elementary level, but the students have matured in their abilities. They can now do different activities on the Hour of Code website than the ones they were using at the elementary level. It’s nice to see that continuation.”

School Committee member Stacy Dahlstedt said LMS parent Diane Courtney helped initiate the partnership with Ping Identity due to her friendship with company employee Keith Pettit.

“She put Keith in touch with me and then I reached out to Sarah,” said Dahlstedt. “Sarah coordinated the effort with Middle School Principal Steve Ralston and STEM Director Katie Ambroise. They were able to make it happen with all of the science teachers in the sixth and seventh grade classes. We were really fortunate to have her reach out.”

Perkins noted that the lessons marked the first time the school system has “worked with an outside company to do the activities.”

“We are very excited about it,” said Perkins.

Perkins said the Hour of Code is a great opportunity for students to have fun while learning an important skill.

“They kids are enjoying their time together,” said Perkins. “It’s nice to see how they have matured in their pair programming, which is the idea where you have a driver who is using the device and the navigator who is helping the driver navigate through the different programming activities. They jumped right on the Chromebooks and started working together. They were able to navigate the site, complete different activities and the different levels in each activity. It’s a nice happy hum of activity.”

Ambroise said coding is very popular at LMS.

“Our STEM teacher Courtney Spencer uses a lot of programs such as Scratch in her classroom,” said Ambroise.

Perkins added that eighth grade science students use Sphero Robotic balls while learning about velocity in labs.

Murphy and Perkins both said they want the School Department to continue partnering with Ping Identity going forward. Perkins said a Ping Identity employee will be giving a presentation to Lynnfield High School Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science students in early February.

“We are working with Ping district-wide and not just at the middle school level,” said Perkins.