Sunday, December 1, 2013

Hour of Code

I am really excited about the opportunity to organize some activities for the Hour of Code!  The Hour of Code is part of Computer Science Education Week (December 9-15, 2013), designed to introduce computer science and programming to millions of students across the United States.  The hour of code is just that, one hour during the week (though I do hope it ends up being longer!), and there are a number of activities being organized online.  At the elementary level, I hope to use Scratch with students for the hour of code, possibly through this activity where students will be making interactive holiday cards.  There are a whole host of other activities to engage students in as well.
Why Computer Science?



Simply put, there aren't enough programmers in the United States, and we're not doing much in public education to change that.  Even though computer science is one of the fastest-growing fields in our economy (and one that pays well, too), just 1 out of 10 schools in the country offer computer science curricula.  Furthermore, more and more countries are either requiring computer science in their schools, or exploring the possibility.  And with the number of computer science jobs outpacing the number of computer science students by 2020, our country's competitive edge is at stake.

But, there's good news!
With a wealth of knowledge about computer science and programming available online, we don't really need to wait for our education system to change course to expose students to computer science.  The purpose of the Hour of Code is to spark that initial interest in students; from there, there are a lot of opportunities outside of school for students to continue learning on their own (I started Saturday Scratch Clubs with this in mind). Code.org has links to a number of online resources available; I also have a listing of websites and apps for the iPad available on my Scratch Club page.

If you are a teacher interested in getting started with Hour of Code, I hope you've found this post useful.  If you are at the elementary level and might be interested in doing a collaborative Hour of Code via videoconference or other method, please send me an email or leave a comment below!

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