Computer Science Education Week

by Kim Moldofsky, The Maker Mom

Computer Science Education Week is coming December 7 - 13. This worldwide celebration of technical education may be best known for its signature event, The Hour of Code. The Hour of Code urges everyone to participate in CS Education Week by completing an hour of computer programming. Can’t tell the difference between variables and functions? Don’t worry! It’s much less intimidating than it sounds. The Hour of Code website is full of engaging tutorials that take, you guessed it, about an hour to complete.

Anyone can participate in Hour of Code, but the campaign coordinators especially like to involve teachers to help spread the word. In fact, they have a special resource guide to help you bring the Hour of Code to your classroom. The 2014 Hour of Code was the world’s largest international education event, but they hope to break that record in 2015.

Not enough computers to go around? That’s okay. Even professional programmers often participate in “pair programming.” That is, two people work on one coding job while paired at a single computer. Even if you don’t have enough computers to allow for pair programing, don’t despair. Your students can participate in Hour of Code even if you don’t have any computers in your room. There are several “unplugged” Hour of Code tutorials that help students develop the logic and language necessary to become adept coders without using a computer. In fact, I created an offline game of my own. 

Part of the beauty of Hour of Code, is that it can take place wherever and whenever you want. No worries if you can't sacrifice an hour of class time. Maybe your school can offer a lunchtime event to introduce students to skills that can build their future. Or maybe you can offer students extra credit for completing an activity outside of school. The tutorials are pretty fun. I couldn’t resist trying the new Star Wars-themed challenge; can you? 

If you can find a few minutes, maybe you can show one of the inspiring promotional videos. Why? They highlight a diverse range of people who have a passion for coding and want to make it accessible for all students. This is crucial because, as a whole, the population of computer programmers doesn’t currently reflect the makeup of our population. In fact, just a couple of years ago, some states had no girls and no black students sit for the AP Computer Science exam. As a teacher, you play a crucial role in creating a diverse pipeline for the field. You can make a difference.