Knox Commerce

Students in Knoxville and Oak Ridge break Guinness World Record for Largest Computer Programming Lesson

photo courtesy of CodeTN

An attempt last November by students from Knox County Schools and Oak Ridge City Schools to break the Guinness World Record for the largest computer programming lesson has been officially certified. Nearly 6,800 students joined together and now claim the world record for simultaneously learning how to code.

Philip Robertson, a New York City-based Adjudicator with the Guinness Book of World Records, told officials in an email yesterday that CodeTN successfully attempted the largest computer programming lesson spanning multiple venues with 6,778 participants.

The attempt to break the Guinness World Record was led by Brandon Bruce, co-founder and chief operating officer of software tech company Cirrus Insight, and Caleb Fristoe, project manager of CodeTN, which is a Great Schools Partnership initiative that organizes coding clubs, camps, and competitions. The effort was heavily supported by Knox County Schools, the third largest school district in Tennessee, and its Educational Technology and Information Technology departments.

“Breaking the Guinness World Record shines a bright spotlight on Knoxville and Oak Ridge as global leaders and innovators in STEM education,” said Bruce. “The students, teachers and parent volunteers were determined to set the record. Everybody did an amazing job and students got to take home a certificate that says they’re world champions.”

Approximately 67 percent of new jobs in STEM are in computing, which is the largest and fastest growing source of new wages in the U.S., with 500,000 jobs currently available.

“Computer Science will provide the blue-collar work of the future, and, by starting today, we can equip our students with the necessary skills to compete for those jobs,” Fristoe said. “We were inspired by the work of which organizes the annual Hour of Code, which we participate in every year, and decided to make a concerted effort to set a world record. There are now 6,778 local elementary, middle and high school students who are really excited about coding.”

During the world record attempt, students simultaneously watched an instructional YouTube video featuring local students then followed the video lesson and learned how to code on classroom computers using Scratch, a web application developed by MIT.

Hundreds of classroom volunteers from local Parent Teacher Associations (PTA), Volunteer Knoxville and local technology companies like Sword & Shield Enterprise Security served as stewards and witnesses for the world record attempt.

“It was awesome to see the community support for this effort,” said Fristoe. “The teachers, parents and volunteers were every bit as excited as the students to break the world record. The project really brought the community together to achieve a shared goal.”

“This was coding at its finest,” said Knox County Schools Director of Instructional Technology Theresa Nixon. “Thousands of students had their first experience with coding. It was a showcase of collaboration and creativity.”