We’ve talked on the blog before about the fantastic organization Girls Who Code, a group actively working to increase the number of girls in the computer science field in the next year. Computer science falls right in line with something important we also often discuss here on the blog: STEM skills (science, technology, engineering, and math).
Well, Code.org is an extremely cool non-profit who actually takes the Girls Who Code message a bit further: they want everybody in every school to have the opportunity to learn computer science, and also advocate for increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. Their mission statement truly goes hand-in-hand with ours: “We believe computer science and computer programming should be part of the core curriculum in education, alongside other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses, such as biology, physics, chemistry and algebra.”
You’d think that adding skills like these to all core curricula would be an easy task, but that simply isn’t the case. It can be difficult to inspire teens and high-school students to want to learn these skills, not just have to. That’s why Code.org offers plenty of ways to make learning fun, easy, and legitimately interesting enough to spark that desire, that passion that can fuel future computer scientists or manufacturers or engineers.
They say that with coding, really anybody can learn. Anybody. That’s why their Hour of Code program emphasizes that if you spend even just one hour, you can write lines of code that you never thought you had the potential to write. So far, 62, 136, 586 students have written lines of code (and in terms of gender, girls aren’t far behind boys with 49% to their 51%)!
There are some awesome activities that appeal to girls and boys of all ages that walk you through what it takes to create your own program, then run it. Each project is designed to teach students computational thinking and the basics of computer programming! Computational thinking such as problem decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction, algorithmic thinking, and more are all introduced to students who play these games, without them realizing that they’re learning! For example, try coding with Anna and Elsa from the popular movie Frozen to create snowflakes and patterns as you ice-skate (program for ages 8+). Use Tynker to let your imagination run wild, and literally build your own computer game.
Best of all, since December 8-14 is Computer Science Week, Apple stores are all supporting coding and pairing up with Code.org’s Hour of Code to offer workshops and special events at local Apple retail stores! On December 11th, stores will offer an in-person Hour of Code, a free one-hour introduction to the basics of computer programming. Check your local Apple store to see if that location is hosting a workshop– if not, Apple stores around the globe will host developers and create videos that talk about the invention of a new app or a particularly exciting line of code.
Happy Computer Science week from us to you, and spend an hour working on your coding skills– you never know, you just might fall in love with it.