What We Learned From The Hour Of Code

What We Learned From The Hour Of Code

The Awesome Inc team working with students at Eastside Technical Center. The Awesome Inc team working with students at Eastside Technical Center. More photos available on flickr.

By Nick Such

Last week, over 15 million people around the world celebrated Computer Science Education Week by dedicating an hour to learn to code. Our team at Awesome Inc helped facilitate 10 Hour of Code sessions at 8 schools around Fayette County, working with over 950 students from grades 4 - 12. During this process, we made a few observations:

  • Learning to code is fun. Sure, anything that gets a kid out of his or her normal routine is exciting, but we were surprised at how much fun students were having. As an experienced software developer will tell you, the joy of overcoming a programming challenge is worth any frustrations you encounter along the way.

  • The notion that programming is an “affluent white male thing” is only due to social inertia. From our observations, girls often picked up the logic faster than boys, and ethnicity was not a factor in how well a student grasped the Hour of Code activities. Some great organizations like BlackGirlsCode are helping to tip the scales.

  • Nobody is too young. Elementary students picked up the challenges as fast or faster than high schoolers. Perhaps this reflects the inverse relationship between age and language acquisition abilities.

  • While we didn’t get to work directly with them this week, we were really excited to see FCPS’s own Southern Elementary win a $10,000 grant from Code.org. It sounds like the school plans to buy laptops so that more students will have the resources to learn to code.

  • Everybody loves Angry Birds. The Code.org tutorial that many students worked on required players to navigate an Angry Birds character through a maze by constructing an algorithm. By borrowing from the popularity of Angry Birds, learning to code was way more inviting for kids (and adults) who are fans of these games.

  • The world is going to be fine. Kids are smart, curious, and our K-12 teachers are great.

The 8 awesome schools we worked with last week:

Tates Creek High School

STEAM Academy

Eastside Technical Center

Dixie Magnet Elementary

Lexington Latin School

The Lexington School

Sts. Peter and Paul

The Learning Center at Linlee

Following the success of the Hour of Code last week, we’re not sure we can wait for Grace Hopper to have another birthday. If you’d like to bring the Awesome Inc U team to your K-12 school (or office/church/university, etc), let us know.