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Hour of Code Engages Students in Computer Science

December 12, 2014

With the launch of Code.org’s Hour of Code 2014 this week, events at the White House and at schools across the country have highlighted the increasing importance of technology.

How important is coding? Well, important enough for President Obama to encourage kids to pursue technology and computer science by kicking off Hour of Code 2014.  The president hosted middle-school students from the South Seventeenth Street School in Newark, New Jersey at the White House, where the students worked through some of the tutorials from Code.org.  As part of the awareness effort, the president himself wrote a line in JavaScript and participated in some of the tutorials as well.

If anything, 2014’s Hour of Code shows just how successful technology awareness efforts have been so far. There were more than 77,300 Hour of Code events planned worldwide. In Portland, Oregon alone, 400 schools participated in the Hour of Code 2014.

This year, Hour of Code has specifically targeted women and minorities in the technology sector, gearing its efforts towards students who are most under-represented in the field.  At Fulton Elementary School (Maryland), 30 students in the How Girls Code club came to school in spite of snow and school closure on November 26, and completed a two-hour session of programming LEGO Mindstorms robots. The club has seen an upswing of interest in the past year - signups for the club’s fall session filled completely in 72 hours, and the Howard County Public Schools system is considering expanding the club to other schools.

The message is catching on. In Austin, Texas, 764 girls (100% of the student body) at the Ann Richards School for Young Women participated in the Hour of Code.  Eleventh-grader Leah Sherman felt encouraged by the exposure to something she had not understood.  “Now that I know what it is, I wish I had started sooner,” she said.  Eighth-grader Zoe Taulli was taken aback that the field was more than 80% male. “Why?” she asked. “What’s stopping women from doing it? What can we do to make it a more even playing field?” 

But the value of coding doesn’t stop at empowering girls or even career choice. Learning to code can also help all kids better understand math and logic. In Anne Arundel County Public Schools, young students in the elementary school grades used “robot language” to direct classmates to move plastic cups after learning about algorithms and binary. Then they switched to the computers. For these students, coding connected math, science, and organization. They learned quickly. There were 10 “obstacles” for students to complete on Thursday’s lesson, and most finished six before lunch. An exciting week for students across the country!