When I went to high school in rural Pennsylvania, computer science was a newly emerging field. Luckily, my high school had a program called College in High School Credits (CHS) where we were able to take computer programming classes at the University of Pittsburgh via our high school classrooms. Understanding in the late 90s and early 2000s just how important computer programming could become, I took advantage of this opportunity.
It is hard to believe that, fifteen years after taking my first computer programming class, this benefit is not offered at most schools across the country. With the emergence of the digital age and the ubiquitous use of computer applications, accessibility to computer programming is something that needs to be considered for K-12 curricula. Hadi and Ali Partovi have done just that with their creation of Code.org.
With endorsements from individuals like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, most people have heard of the Hour of Code™ initiative by now. The idea was launched in 2013 in order to get students involved in computer science. Before launching, Hadi Partovi indicated that most US schools do not teach programming courses. In fact, according to Code.org, only one in four schools teach computer programming.
Partovi believes that computer science should become part of the core curriculum, like biology or chemistry, and finds it problematic that only about half of the United States allows students to use computer science credits toward graduation.
Fostering diversity at home and around the world
Since launching in 2013, Code.org and specifically Hour of Code have had tremendous success. In addition to bringing computer science accessibility to students all over the country, Hour of Code courses have been translated into more than forty languages, and they are being used in more than 180 countries.
Part of the initiative involves fostering diversity in the field of computer science, and Code.org has pioneered that effort as well. In their online courses, more than 40% of students are female and 37% of students are African American or Hispanic. When considering disparities in diversity amongst the STEM workforce, Code.org’s numbers are impressive. For instance, in 2011, only 24% of the STEM workers were women, around 11% were African American, and another 7% of STEM workers were Hispanic (Landivar 2013).
Making learning fun
Visit Code.org and support the cause by signing up, donating, or by creating your own one-day workshop!
Landivar, Liana Christin. (2013). Disparities in STEM employment by sex, race, and Hispanic origin. U.S. Census Bureau.