December Coming Attractions: Computer Science Education Week and the Hour of Code

 |   Shelley Stern Grach

Chicago_Funny

Even though our thoughts right now are on family, turkey and shopping (not necessarily in that order), it’s also time to look at Coming Attractions! in December. No, not the latest holiday movies….something much more important. 

Join the movement and participate in Computer Science Education Week December 8-12 and the Hour of Code!

What is the Hour of Code?

It is a technology industry-wide campaign to get 100 million students of all ages to learn an hour of code during this year’s Computer Science Education Awareness week, December 8-14, 2014. Code.org – a nonprofit of which Microsoft is a founding partner – is organizing the effort. The campaign aims to give students a taste of computer science ideas and tools, demonstrate to parents, teachers, and policymakers how accessible learning coding can be, and drive demand for expanded computer science courses and activities in schools. Please see http://hourofcode.com/us to learn more about the campaign.

How is Microsoft Involved?

Microsoft is supporting Code.org with significant financial resources and volunteer leadership because we share the same goal that all kids should have the opportunity to learn computer science in high school. This effort is part of Microsoft’s YouthSpark initiative – our company-wide commitment to create opportunities for youth that empower them to imagine and realize their potential. We are encouraging our Microsoft offices, stores and nonprofit partners to host events; asking employees to volunteer to teach; and driving awareness through our digital and social media channels.

How Do I Get Involved in the Hour of Code?

We encourage you to make sure all of the youth you reach have an opportunity to learn an Hour of Code! Code.org has curated a variety of hour-long tutorials for anybody to try on the http://hourofcode.com/us website. Microsoft’s TouchDevelop, Kodu, Windows App Studio and Small Basic have created terrific tutorials and can be found on Microsoft’s Hour of Code curated website at www.microsoft.com/hourofcode. These sites are open to anyone-parents, teachers, community groups and of course students. Participants can complete the tutorials with computers, tablets, smartphones, and some with no computers at all.   There are also “how-to” guides for volunteers, parents, schools, etc. at http://hourofcode.com/us.

Chicago was a rock star last year on the Hour of Code “Leaders Board”. There already are a wide range of activities planned and we aim to be #1 City that Codes in 2014!

Here is a small sample of some of the groups which are participating — join the movement!

  • Chicago Public Schools has a wide array of programs planned across the city. Plus, with computer science now part of CPS’s core curriculum, every student has a chance to be the next great programmer. Join @ChiPubSchools on Twitter and check events with your local school.
  • Englewood Codes is going to be in a different Englewood school each day of Computer Science Education Week doing Hour of Code programming. Check out @citizendrummer.
  • The Museum of Science and Industry, in partnership with Microsoft, is running 3 Hour of Code sessions on Saturday, December 6th to kick off Computer Science Week. Check out http://www.msichicago.org/.
  • @BLUE1647 in Pilsen will be running a series of coding sessions during the week.
  • @MSFTChicago will be hosting sessions at our Microsoft Technology Center. Contact Mary Monroy-Spampinato at maryms@microsoft.com if you are interested.
  • You can watch an on-demand training on how to run an Hour of Code event at http://aka.ms/HoCEventTraining.
  • Microsoft Retail Stores in Chicago, Oak Brook and Schaumberg will be running several classes at all Retail Stores throughout the week-for free! Young developers can jumpstart their futures and participate in 2014 Hour of Code though our YouthSpark Field Trip program as well as coding workshops during CS Education Week.
  • YOUmedia is coding, too! Join YOUmedia at the Harold Washington Library Center for Hour of Code and participate in a series of activities such as the digital collage poem, programming LED lights, a live-stream Hack and Slash, and more! Sign up by calling (312) 747-4960 or tweet them at @youmediachicago.

Remember, anybody can learn coding— everyone starts somewhere, and coding gives you the power to create with technology, not just use it. As we have discussed, these skills are critical to success in the 21st century economy. So burn off some of those Thanksgiving day calories and learn to code — you can even start now with Hour of Code’s current Angry Birds and Frozen programs!

To learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to youth and education, visit our YouthSpark Hub or follow us on twitter at @msftcitizenship.

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Shelley Stern Grach
Shelley Stern Grach

They say that great work stems from a combination of passion and commitment, something that Shelley certainly possesses when it comes to her life and career. She currently serves on the boards of the Women’s Business Development Center, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Thrive Chicago, Year Up and LISC Chicago. At Microsoft Chicago, she’s the Director of Civic Engagement, working at the intersection of computing and community, promoting STEM programs and using Microsoft technology to spur growth in the community. So no matter if it's work, play, or giving back, Shelley always makes sure her drive and professionalism help her complete her life's goals.