The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify "code", demonstrate that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science.
It originated in December 2013 during Computer Science Education Week. Code.org launched the ‘Hour of Code Challenge’ online, inviting students to try and complete tutorials using Blockly, a programming language similar to Scratch. The program had huge support from influential figures – everyone from Bill Gates to President Obama got behind it, and in the end over 20 million people participated.
It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, taking place each year during Computer Science Education Week, which this year is December 3-9, but you can host an Hour of Code all year-round.
The goal of the Hour of Code is to learn that computer science is fun and creative, accessible at all ages, for all students, regardless of background.
Benefits of learning to code
Every student should have the opportunity to learn computer science. It helps nurture problem-solving skills, logic and creativity. By starting early, students will have a foundation for success in the 21st-century.
Coding fosters transferable skills: Programming, or coding, is simply the way people tell a computer what to do using instructions that the computer understands. Code.org and other advocates for the Hour of Code say that even 5-year olds can learn to program.
And writing code exposes children to the following skills:
- Comprehension: understanding what the commands in a language mean
- Planning: deciding how to approach a problem
- Creativity: testing ideas, writing programs, and executing those programs to see results
- Problem Solving: debugging and reasoning to get to a correct solution
- Teamwork: working in teams to arrive at more efficient solutions
Coding acts as a great motivator to learn new things: When children accomplish one thing using code, they will often follow up with a ‘Now, how can I do such and such?’ These questions become a gateway to other subject areas like maths and sciences. Children become intrinsically motivated to learn new concepts as a result of wanting to solve new problems with code.
Computers are everywhere: In today’s world, computers are used by billions of people to make things, share things, and solve problems. The Hour of Code event advocates that learning to code is not just for a select few, or for a select gender, but for anyone and everyone. Learning to code is simply the best way to gain the full benefit of using computers, and whether or not they go on to become a programmer. Coding will be an incredibly useful skill to add to a child’s repertoire.
Why computer science and coding are important?
Being comfortable with computers and knowing how to do simple coding from an early age, prepares children for the best jobs of the future.
A 2015 study found there were as many as seven million job openings in the US that required coding skills and that coding jobs are growing in number around 12% faster than the market average. This isn’t a trend that’s going away.
Figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the most promising job of the future is as a software app developer – with a predicted increase of 253,000 more jobs in the US and a salary of over $100,000.
And all major tech companies, from Google to Facebook, aggressively compete to hire gifted young coders. In the Silicon Valley area, for example, some reports suggest engineering graduates from Stanford University expect their starting salary to be nothing less than $100,000-120,000.
But it’s not just jobs in the tech sector, coding is used in almost all aspects of life and work now, be it directly or indirectly. “An increasing number of businesses rely on computer code, from accountants using complex spreadsheets, to artists and designers using graphics software,” says Prof Rory O’Connor, head of the school of computing at Dublin City University. “Tensions between engineers and business people can arise due to a misunderstanding or lack of appreciation for the engineer’s job. An understanding of coding, across business functions, can eliminate such disconnect.”
Hour of Code with Clevertouch
Start planning your Hour of Code by checking out the link below – it will give you all the info you need to get started. You can organise an Hour of Code event at your school in class or as an extracurricular club.
As well as the tutorials on the Hour of Code website, Clevertouch also has some great apps in the Cleverstore you can use:
Lightbot is a programming puzzle game: a puzzle game that uses game mechanics that are firmly rooted in programming concepts. Players gain a practical understanding of basic control-flow concepts like procedures, loops, and conditionals, just by guiding a robot with commands to light up tiles and solve levels. Featuring 50 levels and 20 challenge stars to collect, it’s Ideal for ages 8+
Lightbot Junior is designed for ages 4 to 8 years and is an easier version of the Lightbot app: featuring a gentler learning curve and less complex puzzles. You can play as Boybot or Girlbot as you solve puzzles that use game mechanics that are rooted in Computer Science concepts. Lightbot Junior gives players a practical understanding of basic concepts like writing instructions, debugging problems, simple procedures and loops, just by guiding a robot with commands to light up tiles and solve levels. A great tool when introducing their younger students to programming.
Run Marco is an epic adventure game, which is great fun to play so they don’t even realise their learning to code. Use visual instructions to guide Marco through a series of levels as he tries to discover himself. In this journey you will learn how to think as a professional developer one step at a time! Based on an original story. Designed for ages 6 to 12, the software game aids with computer programming concepts including sequence of commands, integration & conditions, functions and algorithms. Small groups of children can work on the app together to develop their coding skills.
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