November 18, 2015

Mid-week Morsel: Hour of Code

What is the Hour of Code?  The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics.  It has been called the largest learning event in history.  It's a week-long event in which you can participate as a group or as an individual, as part of an organized event, or in the privacy of your own home.  It is for children, teens, adults, and everyone in between.  The Hour of Code is an event highlighting Computer Science Education Week, which is December 7-13, 2015.

What do I do?  You level of participation depends on you.  All you really need to do is commit one hour of your time during CSEW to learning about coding. 

How do I participate from home?  You don't have to actually go to an event to participate.  There are several tutorials and websites dedicated to both introducing coding to beginners, and teaching coding to all ages.  Here are a few: is a great website.  It is full of tutorials and lessons aimed at students, but available to anyone.  There are sections for students, educators, and advocates.  They have Minecraft and Star Wars themed Hour of Code lessons! 

 Khan Academy is an excellent site for older children or adults.  You're probably familiar with Khan Academy for math, but they also have a nice computer science section, including one specifically for Hour of Code.  They offer tutorials for drawing with code, creating webpages, creating databases, and more.

 Scratch & Scratch Jr don't offer projects specifically for Hour of Code, but they do offer simple drag-n-drop coding lessons.  Scratch Jr allows children aged 5-7 the opportunity to program their own interactive stories and games.  Children 8-16 can use Scratch to program and share interactive stories, games, and animation.

What if I want to go to an event?  If you'd like to physically go to an organized event, I recommend checking with the Hour of Code website.  There is an interactive map on the homepage pinpointing each of the more than 101,000 registered events worldwide.  I found more than 40 events registered just in my county!  (Note: many schools are hosting in-school events.  Ask you child if he/she is familiar with Hour of Code.)  If you can't find an event in your area, organize an event!  There is information on how to organize an event on the Hour of Code website, too.

Beyond the Hour... If you find that you or your child(ren) want to continue learning to code, or if you are interested in making coding & computer science classes a part of your school or homeschool, there are additional sources available.  Some are free, and some are paid programs.

Online programs include Codecademy, Dash, and CodeHS.  If you or your student would rather physically attend classes led by a teacher or mentor, there are several free and affordable options.  Coder Dojo is a network of free computer programing clubs for young people.  Girl Develop It is a nonprofit organization that exists in 54 cities to provide affordable and judgment-free opportunities for women interested in learning web and software development.  Black Girls Code is a project dedicated to increasing the number of women of color in the digital space by empowering girls of color ages 7 to 17 to become innovators in STEM fields, leaders in their communities, and builders of their own futures through exposure to computer science and technology.  They are also working to create a male counterpart, Black Boys Code.

Take some time to explore the world of coding and computer science.  What would you like to learn?