What is the Hour of Code? It’s an exciting global movement where students everywhere are participating in computer science activities. Why is this so important? Computer science runs our everyday life. Think of the tablet or the computer game your child is using, the phone in your hand, or the electronic chart your doctor uses to help with your health care decisions. Technology is all around us, and it will only continue to grow and develop if we expose people to the possibilities they can be responsible for.
Hour of Code History
The history of the Hour of Code dates to December 2013 when code.org decided to challenge the world to an hour of exposure to computer science. This hour takes place during the Computer Science Education Week. The original challenge of the hour was to have students practice lines of code in Blocky (a Google program that teaches coding) and achieve specific goals in the program.
This hour was so important that it even had President Obama’s backing as well as other important CEOS of tech companies. The first hour of code reached 20 million people and later grew to 40 million the year after. In 2016, the Hour of code became a global event when French Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched the International Hour of Code.
Today the hour of code has reached over 100 million students and there have been over 600 million hours of code completed. This continues to rise each year as more people in countries that didn’t previously have access to computers now do! The start with the basics like HTML or CSS, and get into harder programming languages like Python, PHP or MongoDB.
Participating in the hour of code is incredibly easy. All you must do is code! (this is great for younger kids and want to stick to kids programming languages) For students with no coding experience, that may sound daunting, but code.org has made the experience self-guided and fun for students of all ages. Students can participate on a phone, computer or tablet. Even shared devices have yielded higher learning development, because students are problem-solving together, rather than relying on a teacher.
What does hour of code Offer?
Hourofcode.com has a huge variety of tutorials for students to choose from. Students can choose tutorials that range from Minecraft, Star Wars, Robots, Moana, etc. The teacher can choose tutorials that coincide with a lesson plan, or students can select a self-guided tutorial. Programs are also based on what type of device is being used, whether there is a good internet connection, or if there is no device at all. Topics range from science to art or you can choose computer science only tutorials.
How do you make this exciting for your students? There are two dozen different videos created by code.org that are meant to inspire your students. Video topics range from careers in computer science to celebrities talking about the hour of code, to why computer science is so important. You could also invite guest speakers to speak in your classes about their experience in computer science and the endless possibilities your students can reach. For students in high school, who are approaching college, talk about how the field of computer science is growing way faster than the amount of computer science graduates that we have. They can make a difference in a field that so desperately needs them.
Code.org’s Students’ Review
When students complete the hour of code, CELEBRATE! It is not just an achievement for them, but it is an achievement for the world. Code.org has premade certificates that each student can receive for completing the hour, and you can customize them with your students’ names. You can also help celebrate the Hour of Code by sharing achievements and moments to social media using the hashtag “hourofcode.” This will also help bring awareness to the global effort to bring computer science knowledge to everyone.
How else do you spread the word about the Hour of Code? Reach out to your school about hosting an Hour of Code. There are pre-written emails under the resource section of HourofCode.com that you can send out to your school, employer and friends. You can reach out to other parents, ask media outlets to attend your Hour of Code event, ask a community center, such as a church, to host and promote their own event. The sky is really the limit on how you can promote an hour.
The facts if things do not change:
• Without Computer science being widely taught in schools, innovation in technology will be stagnant.
• Jobs created for computer science majors will not be filled by American graduates, because we do not graduate enough people in the field to fill the positions. Jobs have constantly outpaced graduating students.
• More than half of new STEM jobs are in computer science, but there are not even a handful of students graduating with a STEM degree that fit the need.
• Computer Science graduates will make more money in their lives that a regular college graduate.
• Less than half of the states in the US have computer science standards
So what can you do? Be excited and share to others what the Hour of Code is. If you’re a parent, introduce your child to computer science. That can be done through STEM toys, or online tutorials. Reach out to your local schools, churches, clubs, community centers. Share on social media, and then participate! Be apart of the global movement that is empowering students to learn. Computer science can change the world, and the more students learn how to code, the more opportunity and possibility they can create.