The Hour of Code: Powell County Students Join Millions as Part of Computer Science Education Week

Posted in:

by Dr. Jane Hayes

What a difference one hour can make. On December 13, 2014, Powell County students joined the mission to introduce 100 million students to computer science. Computers are everywhere, but fewer schools teach computer science than ten years ago. Girls and minorities are severely underrepresented. Some sources estimate as many as 1 million unfilled computer-related jobs by 2020. Good news is, we’re on our way to change this, one hour at a time: the Hour of Code helps introduce students to computer programming and computer science.

In one week last year, 15 million students tried computer science! Computer science was on homepages of Google, MSN, Yahoo! and Disney. President Obama, Shakira and Ashton Kutcher all kicked off the Hour of Code with videos. Over 100 partners came together to support this movement.

This year, the Hour of Code movement is aiming for 100 million students. That’s why nearly 200 students at four Powell County schools joined in on the largest learning event in history: The Hour of Code, during Computer Science Education Week (December 8 – 14).

A team of volunteers, led by Dr. Jane Hayes, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Kentucky, facilitated the Hour of Code at four schools over a five day period. The volunteers, members of the Career and Technical Education department of PCHS, Technology Department of Powell County Schools, several technology and STLP and gifted and talented teachers, were trained to be Hour of Code trainers: Mr. Kendall Kearns, Kelly Marcum, Anna Faulkner, John Estep, Jr., Craig Bowen, Nick Caudill, Alicia Frazier, Ronnie Cooper, Brandon Brewer, Virginia Carpenter, Jennifer Francis, and Crystal Neal.

During the Hour of Code event, the students watched a short video about computer science and then undertook a self-paced tutorial that taught them about computer programming while writing programs that caused the characters of video games (Angry Birds, Zombies vs. Plants, and Ice Age) to move through a maze. The students earned both a virtual and paper certificate when they finished the tutorial. Many students finished in less than one hour and worked on different tutorials such as flappy bird. These tutorials can be found at www.code.org/learn.

Roughly one dozen University of Kentucky Hour of Code t-shirts were given away to lucky winners, these shirts were provided by several sponsors: Healy Family McDonald’s, Lexmark, Galmont Consulting, and the University of Kentucky Computer Science department. The Healy Family McDonald’s organization sent a representative, Candy Calvert, to assist with the Bowen Elementary Hour of Code. McDonald’s also provided some free food to the Bowen participants.

Many students who participated indicated that they enjoyed it and wished that computer science was offered at the high school. The Hour of Code, organized by the nonprofit Code.org and over 100 others, is a statement that today’s generation of students are ready to learn critical skills for 21st century success. If you are interested in computer science or hosting the Hour of Code, contact the University of Kentucky’s Department of Computer Science at info@cs.uky.edu. Join the fun and learn how to code today, all you need is one hour.