Computer Science Education Week Pushes One Hour of Code

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Computer Science Education Week began Monday with plans to rack up schools that plan to teach students one hour of code.

About 150,000 hours of code events are planned so far for this week, according to the Computer Science Education Week website. The site offers programs for students in grades K-12, with lesson plans or self-led tutorials on coding including “Write Your First Computer Program,” which has commentary from Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.

Over the past three years, the site has served more than 300 million people or organizations.

In honor of Computer Science Education Week, President Obama announced the progress that has been made through his Computer Science for All (CSforAll) initiative, which works to bring computer science education to underserved communities.

The National Science Foundation announced that it is giving $20 million in support of computer science education. The National Science and Technology Council said that it will develop a CSforAll strategic framework in the coming year.

The U.S. Department of Education is working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Parks Service, Institute of Museum and Library Services, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to bring authentic STEM experiences to 200 sites across 25 states.

“We have to make sure all our kids are equipped for the jobs of the future–which means not just being able to work with computers, but developing the analytical and coding skills to power our innovation economy,” said Obama in a weekly address on Jan. 30.

Although more girls are choosing to take the computer science Advanced Placement test, eight states had fewer than 10 girls take the exam. In Alaska, nine out of 60 test-takers were girls. In Nebraska eight out of 88 were girls, in North Dakota six out of 35 were girls, in Kansas four out of 57 were girls, in Wyoming two out of six were girls, and in South Dakota one out of 26 was a girl, according to the College Board. In Mississippi and Montana, no females took the exam.

The number of students who are minorities that took the exam have increased, with 2,027 black students having taken the exam this year compared to 1,784 last year, and 6,256 Latino students having taken the exam compared to 4, 272 last year. However African-American and Hispanic students continue to pass the exam at 33 percent and 42 percent, respectively, which is lower than the overall pass rate of 64 percent.

There are more than half a million technology jobs open in the United States and that number is expected to double within the next four years. An Hour of Code is “the first stop on a journey” for students to become interested in computer science topics and explore them at higher levels.

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