This week we celebrate Computer Science Education Week in recognition of Grace Hopper’s birthday on Dec. 9, 1906. During this week, K-12 students are encouraged to participate in an “hour of code’ as part of the Hour of Code initiative to help students realize that they, too, can learn the basics of coding. If bringing coding into your classroom makes you a little nervous, don’t worry! You do not need any prior experience to have your students participate in an hour of code activity. Code.org, one of the leading resources for coding in schools, believes that “anybody can learn” and wants computer science in every school so that every child has the opportunity to be exposed to it. CS Week and Hour of Code have the goal of exposing students to code with the hope they will want to learn more about computer science going forward. As a former computer science teacher, this was always one of my favorite weeks of the year!
The History of Computer Science Week
In 2010, Computing in the Core Coalition launched activities and events to support Computer Science Education Week. In 2013, Code.org launched Hour of Code during CSEdWeek which reached over 15 million students across 167 countries. Since then Code.org continues to develop materials and resources for teachers and students to use in the classroom beyond just the hour.
Why is Computer Science important?
Simply put, technology is everywhere and is not going away. According to Code.org, 67% of new STEM jobs are in computing and the #1 source of new wages comes from computing jobs. As of 2017, there were over 20,000 open computing jobs here in Illinois.
“The Hour of Code is designed to demystify code and show that computer science is not rocket science—anybody can learn the basics,” said Hadi Partovi, founder, and CEO of Code.org. “Over 100 million students worldwide have tried an Hour of Code. The demand for relevant 21st-century computer science education crosses all borders and knows no boundaries.”
When I was teaching computer science, I was always searching for new and impactful materials to supplement my CS curriculum. In 2013 Code.org jumped in to help support the CS movement, and I was very grateful for more resources to use with my students. The materials available are so much more than just an “hour” worth of material to use to teach computer science. Code.org provides an incredible participation guide that will help you get started today.
They also have developed a free online curriculum and offer free training to educators! The CS Fundamentals are for K-5 students, CS Discoveries are for 6th – 10th-grade students and CS Principles are for 9th – 12th grades.
Beyond the Hour of Code
If you are looking for more free computer science resources to use with students, check out this list below.
AI for Oceans by Code.org. Code.org is featuring a new activity this year to expose students to artificial intelligence. Meet AI, the robot that helps clean up the ocean. Check out this video from Code.org to learn about machine learning.
Scratch by MIT. Students create interactive stories, games, and animations using block-based programming. Scratch statistics since 2008.
CSFirst by Google. Uses Scratch to help students learn about coding.
Swift Playgrounds by Apple. Learn to code on the iPad.
Microsoft Makecode. Students use a variety of devices to run programs on and receive immediate feedback.
As you venture into the coding world and your students want more challenges take a look at this list of Computer Science curriculum resources.