This week was Computer Science Education Week and it was marked by the 2nd annual Hour of Code. The Hour of Code is a worldwide initiative meant to introduce students to computer science by having them engage in an hour of programming.
Why do we want our students to engage in an hour of programming as an introduction to computer science? Aside from being fun, engaging and something that can be relevant across content areas, there is a dire need for students to develop a skill set that includes computer science skills.
The U.S. Department of Labor projects that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings. Yet U.S. universities are expected produce only enough qualified graduates to fill 29% of these jobs.
In his video to kick off the Hour of Code, President Obama emphasizes the need for our students to develop such a skill set that prepares them, and our nation, for the future:
We are fortunate to have a great Computer Science Department at MHS with wonderful course offerings in the numerous areas. During this week, Karen Kenney spearheaded an Hour of Code initiative within the department. Initiatives like the Hour of Code are a great way to expose students to aspects of computer science, potentially piquing curiosity and introducing students to a hobby or career interest they can carry with them after high school.
There are many great tutorials that have been created for this week and beyond. While sharing these opportunities with students is important, I also found it beneficial as an educator to try a tutorial to see what the buzz about coding is all about. Programming allows us to create, and when we create we have the potential to innovate and solve problems. Programming permeates all disciplines, with people in numerous fields creating simulations, models, tutorials and web-based content to share and build knowledge in their fields.
If you’d like to try an hour (or even 15 minutes!) of coding, here are some great resources:
- Hour of Code Tutorials
*If you have kids, the Anna & Elsa or Angry Birds tutorials are fun to try together!
- Made with Code
*If you want to light up a tree in the nation’s capital, give this one a try! Once you write your codean submit it you get a date/time when you can see your tree lit by the code you created!
- Khan Academy Tutorial
*If you have a full hour, this tutorial is in a mini-course format