When I started my blog in 2008 I learned how to write one line of code so that I could add links to my reviews and have them open in a new window. Since then, I have been warily fascinated by computer programming and, being a parent, I have been also keeping an eye the growing number of ways in which writing code is a vital part of our economy. In 2013, in conjunction with Computer Science Education Week, code.org, the Hour of Code was launched. Code.org is a non-profit founded by Hadi and Ali Partovi that is dedicated to "expanding access to computer science, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color." Their vision is that "every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science" and that it should be a part of the core curriculum. While computer programming is now considered a "foundational field," in 2013, as Partovi noted, is was not being taught in 90% of American schools. The goal of the Partovis and Hour of Code, which has received widespread support from programmers and entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, along with President Obama, as well as massive crowdfunding support, is to get people to write short snippets of code. What I love most about code.org is the work they are doing in schools, with students, like most of mine, who might otherwise never even know what writing code is or what it looks like. Learn more about this great organization here..
Code.org uses a kind of "Sneaky Chef" approach by using the visual programming language, Blocky, and partnering with cultural icons like Angry Birds, Flappy Bird, Frozen, Plants vs. Zombies and Star Wars. This year, through a partnership with Microsoft, Hour of Code features a Minecraft course! While I have watched my sons play it, I have never tried Minecraft, but doing my Hour of Code with Steve was really fun! By 2014, over 40 million students had takes the Hour of Code class. This year, over 191,000 Hour of Code events will be hosted worldwide.
Last year, I had a handful kids in the library coding and this year, I hope to have at least 30 kids a day starting and finishing an Hour of Code class, which you can try out here. We will even be having volunteers from our local Hewlett Packard fanning out all over the San Diego county volunteering in schools to help kids learn to code!
In honor of Hour of Code and Computer Science Education Week I will be reviewing books on the subject! I hope you'll read my reviews and then try Hour of Code, or other coding sites like Scratch and Tynker! Fueled by my passion for creating a Makerspace in my school library, I have purchased a few programming-related toys to try out on my 11-year-old then purchase for the library with a lovely grant I recently won. For reviews of these toys, check back here in January!