"Remember, if your bird isn't killing one of your piggies, you might have missed a step," teacher
This was no mindless entertainment. Through the game, the class was learning basics of repeat loops, conditionals (if-then commands), basic algorithms (step-by-step procedures) and other aspects of computer coding.
The exercise was part of a global Hour of Code initiative, which took place
Alana is plenty familiar with computer technology.
But before Thursday, was she aware of the coded commands that make those programs work?
That's the idea behind Hour of Code. Between now and 2020, about 1.4 million computer science jobs will become available, but fewer than a half-million students will graduate from college with the training to fill them, according to Code.org.
Fewer than 2.4 percent of college students graduate with a degree in computer science, yet those high-paying jobs are growing at two times the pace of the national jobs average.
In 36 states, computer science doesn't count toward high school math or science (it does in
Significantly, girls' participation in Hour of Code outpaced that of boys, Code.org reported. Girls made up 51 percent of all participants.
"I think it's important to learn code just because it's a useful skill," said Alexis, who has been teaching herself coding through online tutorials. "People have made billions and millions of dollars learning code and applying it. Career-wise, I've been looking at web design and computer programming."
Alexis and students in Mountain View's "Super Tech" elective class helped guide their classmates through Hour of Code tutorials. Between the exercises,
"I don't want it to seem so arcane and beyond them," Ian said. "I want it to seem like something that's in reach."
Students in selected classes at
At Mountain View, it was a schoolwide initiative; all 750 students took part. And, according to Farley, English teachers were the first to embrace the idea.
"Their rationale was, this is a language kids are going to need to know, just like English," Farley said. "Coding will most likely be the No. 1 career skill children will need to know in order to enter the adult workforce."
Indeed, coding on all levels -- both back end and front end -- is insinuating itself into every field and industry, from aerospace to the arts.
Students like Alexis who understand this embrace their geekiness and find themselves not only accepted but admired by their peers.
"Being a nerd is now cool," Alexis said.
But the gap between students' comprehension of code and the need for a code-literate workforce is real, said Irwin, who estimates that before Hour of Code, only about 5 percent of her class had any concrete knowledge of coding.
For students like
"I didn't really know anything at all until this program," Nick said. "I'm learning a lot about code, because you have to try different things to get to your goal. You have to try and try again."
For those who want to do more than an Hour of Code, the Code.org website offers more activities and ideas to integrate coding into the classroom and beyond.
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