Hawaii Schools Join Global ‘Hour of Code’ Movement
The world’s largest computer science education campaign kicks off again this week around the world, with hundreds of Hawaii schools counted among the more than 190,000 locations hosting an “Hour of Code.” The pitch is to provide students an accessible 60-minute introduction to show that anybody can learn the basics of computer programming.
Organized in the U.S. in conjunction with “Computer Science Education Week,” the “Hour of Code” was launched in 2013 by Code.org, a non-profit organization founded by former MySpace and Microsoft executive Hadi Partovi. That year, Hale Kula Elementary in Wahiawa was the local epicenter, with all teachers and students participating and celebrating a $10,000 technology donation from Code.org.
The annual event grew exponentially the following year, even inspiring Pres. Barack Obama to write some code. In Hawaii, there were over 100 participating locations in 2014, again largely through the participation of the statewide Hawaii Department of Education (which highlighted events at Hale Kula Elementary, Iao Intermediate, and Momilani Elementary schools).
This year, the number has nearly doubled, with more than 250 Hawaii schools and education centers across all islands listed on the Hour of Code website. Some highlights for 2015 that I was able to find include:
- Iolani School organizing a full week of events for students in kindergarten through 12th grade, including featured speakers and workshops that include using Scratch to develop a game, and programming robots to navigate a custom “Star Wars Maze.”
- Grand Opening & Hour of Code on Friday, Dec. 11 at Computational Thinkers, an extracurricular learning center teaching children to develop models and simulations of problems using patterns, abstractions, algorithms and data.
- Free coding workshops at Apple Store locations., including Ala Moana Center, Kahala Mall, and the Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki.
- Leeward Community College’s computer science program presenting a full day of sessions on Thursday, Dec. 12, covering shell scripting, App Inventor, Alice, and a beginners’ tutorial featuring “angry birds ad zombies.”
Code.org organizers admit that an hour is not enough time to learn a programming language, but the objective is far greater than learning a specific tool or skill.
“One hour is only enough to learn that computer science is fun and creative, that it is accessible at all ages, for all students, regardless of background,” the website notes. “Success is reflected in broad participation across gender and ethnic and socioeconomic groups, and the resulting increase in enrollment and participation we see in [computer science] courses at all grade levels.”
Not only do millions of students decide to pursue additional computer science education following the Hour of Code, but “tens of thousands of teachers” are inspired to do the same.
“Besides the students, another ‘learner’ is the educator, who gains the confidence after one hour that they can teach computer science even though they may not have a college degree as a computer scientist,” the group writes. “And this applies to school administrators too, who realize that computer science is something their students want and their teachers are capable of.”
Of course, you don’t have to be affiliated with a school or official Hour of Code event to take advantage of the great free resources provided by Code.org. In fact, this year the slate of online tutorials includes new projects featuring Star Wars, Minecraft and Anna and Elsa from “Frozen.”