Hour Of Code Exposes Students To Programming

Written by: Ashley Green (cehdcomm@tamu.edu)
Post date: December 11, 2015

More than 50 students from Texas A&M took part in AggieSTEM’s first Hour of Code.  The event is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students around the world during Computer Science Education Week.

The Hour of Code is a one hour introduction to computer science designed to show that anyone can learn the basics of coding.  The goal is to have students across all gender and ethnic groups participate to inspire today’s generation of students to build technology.

“A lot of students are still being taught the 19th century way.  We want to bring our students to the 21st century,” said Dr. Robert Capraro, professor of mathematics education and co-director of Aggie STEM.  “We want our students to be prepared to teach technology to the next generation in such a way that those students are better prepared for us.”

Only 27 states currently allow students to count computer science courses toward high school graduation credits and many believe that is holding students back from a growing job market.  Currently, there are more than 600,000 available jobs in computer science.  Last year, there were only 38,175 graduates in the workforce to fill those jobs.

Another hope is to get young women involved in computer science.  Less than 25 percent of jobs in technology are held by women and less than 20 percent of bachelor’s degrees in computer science are awarded to women.  The organizers of the Hour of Code featured female characters in the tutorials to encourage more young women excited about computer science.

Janett Gallegos, an interdisciplinary studies major, has worked with coding before.  She said the Hour of Code changed her outlook.  “These tutorials were very engaging as compared to other coding programs I’ve worked with.  It definitely got me more excited about programming.”

The nonprofit code.org runs the Hour of Code.  It launched in 2013 to expand student access to computer science education.  This year, the organization focused on tutorials that would attract students of all ages – making Elsa skate in Frozen, programming R2-D2 in Star Wars and taking characters on an adventure in the Minecraft world.  Students also have the chance to learn other programming languages such as Javascript to create games.

This was the first year AggieSTEM participated in the Hour of Code and Dr. Capraro called it a huge success.