Celebrate Computer Science Education Week with Hour of Code!

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A guide to getting started with Hour of Code in the techiest time of year!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Computer Science Education Week, of course! Now is the perfect time to dive into computer programming, and what better way to do that than with global sensation Hour of Code?

And when we say global, we mean global: to date, 1,082,552,677 people have participated in over 180 countries. Hour of Code may be the largest learning event in history, but like every organization in the tech world,  they have their eyes on the future. 

Hour of Code’s mission is to “demystify "code," to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science.” The more people are exposed to computer science, the brighter the future of innovation. That’s certainly music to our ears. Plus,  there has never been a more opportune moment to start planting the seeds of STEM so that they grow into an exciting future.

Projections from the Department of Labor and more reflect a swift acceleration of growth across STEM industries, but especially in the “T” department. That means big things in terms of future careers in the tech industry, and surely a surge of applicants crowding the booming industry, right?

Wrong. Currently, there is a surprising shortage of qualified candidates for exciting, high-paying jobs, and many of these vacancies are just waiting for resumes that feature a repertoire of programming skills. The next generation has an unprecedented window of opportunity to develop in-demand skills and explore the inner workings of tomorrow’s most amazing tech today. 

After all, there’s no time like the present. Let’s take a closer look at Hour of Code so kids, teens, and even parents (you can do it!) can explore the amazing world of coding this Computer Science Education Week. 

What is Hour of Code?

Hour of Code is an online platform dedicated to bringing free tutorials, activities, and resources to anyone interested in computer science. And many of these tutorials are, you guessed it, one hour long, though their curriculum covers the basics and beyond. 

Their events take place year round, but each year Computer Science Education Week brings it into the spotlight! Over 400 organizations and 200,000 educations worldwide support the annual event, and each year it attracts celebrity sponsors like tennis star Serena Williams and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 

As millions of students participate each December, Hour of Code celebrates diversity and works towards closing representation gaps in computer science. While programming languages are of course universal, the organization offers its guides in 45 languages to ensure global equity of access.

Hour of code also addresses gender inequities in the field. According to their website, women comprise only 20-25% of high school and university programs and careers in computer science. Within Hour of Code, however, female students make up 50% of total participants. 

In a nutshell, Hour of Code is both a global game-changer and an excellent way to get started coding locally -- as local as your living room, in fact! Their website has a wide variety of activities for all ages and experience levels (more on this shortly!).  

When is Hour of Code?

Technically, 365 days a year, but especially December 7th-11th, 2020! 

How do I participate in Hour of Code? 

Glad you asked! The short answer is, it’s easy, and you can click here to get started! Hour of Code’s range of activities offer great enrichment to regular school curriculum and would make for great family bonding time. 

Think about it. If both you and your child are new to coding, you can take the plunge together! Plus, their activities are designed to be highly engaging and fun for kids. Why just stare at a computer screen when you could build your own Star Wars Universe with JavaScript? Or perhaps write your own song with Scratch block coding? Hour of Code’s tutorials feature kid-friendly faces like Disney and Minecraft characters, and there are plenty of activities more age-appropriate for teens too.

Hour of Code not only offers ways to get started and ideas for inviting friends to join in, their website offers printable certificates and other ways to celebrate their effort and achievements

If your child has had more screen time than they (or you) can handle, never fear, they can still participate in Hour of Code. Check out their “Unplugged” page for low-tech, hands-on ways to engage with computer science. Especially if you have a kinesthetic or visual learner at home, these activities are an excellent starting point. 

Why should kids learn to code? 

I could go on about this for another 1,000 words (we’re all passionate about emboldening kids to shape the future at iD Tech!). But the short answer is this: learning to code helps kids build valuable skills, think critically, express themselves, and become informed members of our 21st century society. 

Any one of these reasons is worth just an hour of a day, right? 

We believe that all kids should give coding a try; there’s no telling where one great idea or positive experience might lead. These possibilities are a favorite topic of ours on this blog! If you’re looking for the top 10 reasons why coding is important, check out this post. Wondering which coding language to start with? Here’s a case for JavaScript, and reasons for learning Python. (Truth be told, though, you can’t go wrong with either.)

We’ve also recently taken stock of the state of STEM education in 2020, which points to the increasingly important role technology plays across all STEM disciplines. 

Awesome! What’s next?

Well, what are you waiting for? Head to Hour of Code’s website for amazing techy activities you could do today. If your child enjoys computer science, there are virtually endless possibilities, projects, and extension activities that can comprise their self-guided STEM journey. 

If you could use some guidance from an expert, iD Tech has got you covered. From online private lessons to 12-week semester deep dives into the hottest tech topics, our team of tech rockstars is ready to help nurture kids’ love of all things STEM! 

A photo of Virginia

Virginia started with iD Tech at the University of Denver in 2015 and has loved every minute since then! A former teacher by trade, she has a master's in education and loves working to embolden the next generation through STEM. Outside the office, you can usually find her reading a good book, struggling on a yoga mat, or exploring the Rocky Mountains.