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Time to Get Kids Coding

October 28, 2014

In December of last year we blogged about the efforts being made by the “Hour of Code” group to encourage young people to try their hand at programming. However, by the time we blogged about it the main event it was over and it was too late to get your local schools involved. So when it came to our notice a couple of weeks ago that the event was being repeated again this year (Dec. 8-14), we decided to remind you about it earlier while there is still time to stir up interest in your local education community.

If you want to explore what it is all about you should start by watching the new video on the
Hour of Code website, which provides an excellent introduction to what it is all about and just how far reaching this program has become. The excitement of the young lady who appears at about the 1 minute 25 second mark is priceless and reminded us of the excitement we felt when we first started out in this industry.

One thing it did highlight though is that in the US the participation was way lower than it really should have been with only 30 school districts actively engaged in the program. Admittedly some huge districts such as New York were among that number, and no doubt many individual schools and teachers participated but. … This is where you could play a role. Contact your local district and ask them if they are participating and if not why not. This type of education is, in our opinion, vital to the future of the country--unless we want all of our technical jobs to be off-shored in the future.

Perhaps the low number of school districts participating is not that surprising considering that according to the Computer Science Education Week (CSEW) group, “Currently, 25 states still don't allow students to count computer science courses toward high school graduation.” What? Half of the states in the US don’t think computer science is important enough to even count for a credit? That makes absolutely no sense at all. One of those states by the way is Minnesota--home of the IBM i! If you find this as hard to understand as we do perhaps the upcoming elections are a good time for you to raise such issues. The CSEW website has many excellent resources that can help you to advocate in your area.

If you just want to find out more, or even just find stuff for your own kids and grandkids to explore, it’s not hard to find those resources. A Google search for “Hour of Code” will yield some 3.8 million hits! We followed up on a number of the top hits to see what they were about and Jon’s personal favorite is Tynker, which kept him occupied for hours. Tynker offers eight different coding, game and puzzle activities on its main page as well as full Programming 101, 201, etc. courses that use the same underlying tooling. There are also tools on the site to allow teachers to build their own custom classes so the coding exercises can be blended into history, geography, math and may fit into whatever other themes they are pursuing.

Even if none of the kids who participates end up having a career in IT, learning to code helps them to learn to think logically and solve problems in all arenas.



Posted October 28, 2014| Permalink

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