From December 4 through 10, tens of millions of people from over 180 countries will participate in the Hour of Code Challenge. Now in its fifth year, the event aimed to introduce the world of computer science to anyone from ages 4 to 104, is organized by Seattle-based nonprofit, Code.org.
The sixty-minute event, which can be held anytime during the week, starts with an introductory video on computer science. Participants are then allowed to pick a coding project that intrigues them the most. This year’s offerings include Snoopy Snow Brawl, a multi-player coding game that inspires kids aged 5 to 10 to use problem-solving, strategy, and algorithms to engage in snowball fights with their favorite Peanuts characters. Students can also put their coding superpowers to test by helping Wonder Woman navigate obstacles, creating an interactive logo for search giant Google, or building a Star Wars Galaxy. With over 200 projects to choose from, there is something to interest students of all ages and coding abilities.
Thus far, more than 95,000 Hour of Code events around the world have been registered, and the numbers are only expected to increase as the event week draws closer. Though each school session is designed to last just sixty minutes, participants can individually work on as many different projects as they wish.
Code.org has also developed computer science courses that can be incorporated into a school’s regular curriculum. Since the nonprofit began offering the course in 2013, over 704,000 teachers have signed up to teach introductory computer science, on the online Code Studio, which enrolls more than 22 million students. Just this year, the organization has trained 57,000 new teachers to teach the subject to students of all grades and backgrounds, including those that might not typically be involved in STEM-based subjects. Forty-eight percent of the participating students are underrepresented minorities, while forty-seven percent are female.
Code.org’s efforts have also inspired eleven US states to create K-12 computer science standards, and thirty-five states (including Washington DC) now count the subject towards high school graduation math or science requirements. On November 18, 2017, Virginia became the first state to introduce computer science as a mandatory subject in schools. Though the progress is encouraging, there is still a lot that needs to be done, especially given that most jobs of the future will require some knowledge of the subject. To see how you and your school can be involved in this engaging event, or make it part of your regular school day, go to hourofcode.com.
Resources: code.org, thefoos.com