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Hour of Code Launches in San Francisco

Yesterday, Code.Org hosted an event in San Francisco to launch the Hour of Code program first introduced at the 2013 CSTA annual conference and in Myra Deister's blog piece last week. The goal for the Hour of Code is to introduce 10 million students to one hour of introductory computer science during Computer Science Education Week, December 9-15, 2013.

As part of the Hour of Code, participating educators, classrooms, and students will have a chance to win a variety of prizes. Support materials for educators, including self-guided tutorials, are also being made available to enable any educator, regardless of prior computer science experience, take part.

One of the most interesting elements of yesterday's launch was a panel moderated by CSTA member Professor Helene Martin from the University of Washington and featuring Microsoft's Brad Smith, Google's Maggie Johnson, HVF President and CEO Max Levchin, and California State Superintendent Tom Torlakson.

Maggie Johnson of Google noted that the current computer science pipeline problem is really one of supply and demand, with too few students graduating to fill the available jobs and a lack of understanding of the wide variety of careers available in the field. She also noted the critical importance of better engaging all students to ensure that future industry design teams are truly diverse.

Microsoft's Brad Smith urged states to move as quickly as possible to enact new legislation to allow high school students to count computer science as as a math or science graduation credit. He also urged the federal government to increase HiB visa fees and use these fees to create a national education fund that would provide states with funding for critical initiatives such as computer science teacher training.

California State Representative Tom Torlakson noted that his state is 40th in the nation when if comes to ensuring that student have access to needed hardware and software and that now is the time for states to ensure that "no child is left offline". He pledged to urge schools in his state to participate in Hour of Code.

Code.org's Hadi Partovi also announced the impressive list of industry sponsors who have come onboard to offer prizes and help publicize Hour of Code via their websites. Clearly this is an event that has significant buy-in and support from industry.

With the Hour of Code program, Code.org has the potential to focus unprecedented public and media attention on CSEd Week and to promote computer science education in ways ACM and CSTA only dreamed of when we began Computer Science Education week in 2009. And while it might be tempting to think that your individual contribution and commitment to CS Ed Week are no longer important in the face of all this new attention, the truth is that you are more important than ever. CSEd Week is, and will always be, the best possible time to share what you do in your classrooms every day to prepare your students for the future.

So celebrate it proudly and let us know what you plan to do.

Chris Stephenson
CSTA Executive Director


Today I attended an event during which Tom Torlakson, CA Superintendent of Schools, was one of the speakers. He did mention his new motto, "no child left offline". However, he mentioned it in context of Common Core Testing and not computer science. I had wanted to speak to him after the event, but I felt that speaking to the county superintendent of schools and the assemblywoman who is vice chair of the education committee was more important. I did submit a question about how the state legislature was supporting "Hour of Code", but my question was not answered. I did get a commitment from the county superintendent of schools whom I will be contacting as a follow up and Assemblywoman Buchanan did ask me to contact her regarding computer science credentialing.
If I would have read your blog earlier I would have made more of an effort to speak to Mr. Torlakson. I have not heard him urging California schools to participate in "Hour of Code".

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