December 10, 2013
‘Hour Of Code’ Aims To Engage Kids With Programming
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
The nonprofit Code.org launched its Hour of Code campaign on Monday, which seeks to teach 5 million students in 33,000 classrooms across the world at least one hour of computer science this week.
The Hour of Code initiative is part of the Computer Science Education Week that began in 2009, and is simply a block of time used to encourage students to engage with computer programming at some point during the week.
Corporate partners of the campaign include Yahoo, Google, MSN and Disney, all of whom will promote the event on their respective websites. Additionally, Apple is hosting a free workshop at its retail stores on Wednesday, while Microsoft will hold similar workshops at its 51 retail stores throughout the week.
The $1 million effort also features athletes and entertainers such as Ashton Kutcher, Shakira, Angela Bassett, Chris Bosh, Warren Sapp and Dwight Howard, who issued videos supporting the campaign. Prominent tech industry leaders such as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Susan Wojcicki and even the late Steve Jobs also weighed in with supportive messages on the importance of learning to code. President Obama also added his voice in an encouraging video published over the weekend.
Five million students have committed to participate in Hour of Code worldwide – 70 percent in US schools. In a recorded interview, Code.org co-founder Ali Partovi noted that only five percent of US schools teach computer science today, down from ten just a few years ago.
"In the vast majority of US states computer science does not count toward graduation. It counts as an elective,” Partovi said. As education money gets tight, these programs are getting cut, he added.
Computer science "is the most empowering thing a kid could be learning, especially a kid from a disadvantage background,” he said, pointing to the number of coding positions in tech, health care, government and all types of businesses.
A college graduate who gets his or her first job in computer science makes more money than a doctor who's 10 years older, and it’s a much more realistic goal than becoming an NBA player or a hip-hop star, Partovi said.
Code.org’s guide for teachers who wish to lead an hour of coding in their classrooms can be downloaded here.