This week is Computer Science Education Week (CSED), and since 2009, numerous tech groups have been involved in pushing the need for Computer Programming in education through the Hour of Code initiative.
The goal of Hour of Code is to get 10 million people to participate in one hour of Computer Science programming to see if it may be of interest to them as a career/education choice; it is also to help advocate for Computer Science classes to be taught in schools as part of the core curriculum. The majority of this campaign is focused on getting kids and teens to visit the website and try one of several hour-long courses in computer programming. The courses range from simple tasks like helping the angry bird move over a field to catch those rascally pigs, to more complex measures like developing your first mobile app. Participants can learn on their computer or mobile device, and there is even an offline version that teaches the core concepts of how a computer thinks. Whichever course a participant chooses, they are likely to have FUN since most of the courses have a user-friendly interface and engaging teaching content.
To get started, check with your local school or library to see if they are hosting an Hour of Code event, or visit code.org if there are no local offerings in your community. At our library, for example, we are promoting the Hour of Code by showing the 5-minute promo video (below) during our Wig Out Wednesday program. Then, on Friday the kids can stop by to participate in any programming lesson of their choice, utilizing the library’s laptops and iPads that are provided for this event. To sweeten the deal, we are rewarding those participants with a bonus half-hour of internet time if they complete their programming course. Afterwards, the kids and teens are encouraged to go beyond that initial lesson and try out the other courses.
So far there has been tremendous support from prominent public figures (Mark Zuckerberg, President Obama) to hundreds of teachers and parents who see the need for this skill to be taught in our education system. Oh, and you don’t need to be a child or teen to participate. If you, my dear adult reader, are curious about code, try it out for yourself! And don’t think your six-year-old is too young, either. They have programs for “ages 6 to 106” (though you still may need to read the instructions to them). Code is the new literacy skill that powers our daily tech lives and one that needs to be taught to all students to give them a new core skill set that will contribute to their growth and successes in the world of tomorrow.Stephen Tafoya works as a Technology Trainer for a library district, and he partners with Youth Services Coordinators to engage kids and teens with technology in library programming.