December (and a bit of November and January) is a special time in the Bruce Museum Science Department. It's the month when we offer free Hour of Code classes to schools, libraries, and scout troops in the surrounding area.
Hour of Code is a global program launched in 2013. There are over 200 different activities to choose from on the official Hour of Code website but all follow the same basic plan: A one-hour innovative and fun introduction to coding and computer science. Since its inception, Hour of Code has become the world's largest learning event. The motto of Hour of Code is that "everybody can learn," and it's demystified computer science for over 100 million young learners in over 180 countries.
One of the goals of Hour of Code is to help narrow the wide diversity gap faced by computer science in the United States. Only 25% of high school computer science students are female. The ratio becomes more skewed at the college level, and even more so in the job market. However, when it comes to Hour of Code, about half of participants are girls. Perhaps some are the future stars of the computer science world!
This is the fourth year that the Bruce Museum has participated in Hour of Code. We have developed our own array of Hour of Code programs and brought them to over 150 classes containing nearly 3,000 students throughout that time. In some schools, Hour of Code is the only computer science instruction that students might receive in a year, making it even more important that we deliver a fun and engaging activity.
In grades 4-8, our students learn coding skills using the program Scratch, and with the help of Kari, a friendly prehistoric penguin. Kari is a member of the Kairuku species, a type of penguin that lived 25-27 million years ago and stood about 4.3 feet tall. This penguin was first described by the Bruce's own Dr. Daniel Ksepka, Curator of Science.
The above image represents the coding work of one of our sixth grade students. In Isabella's project, Kari is teaching her brother how to play basketball. Click here to see it for yourself!
At Julian Curtiss School, students dove right into coding and created their own unique interactive stories and games. After the class, when they had received their certificates of completion, they had a lot to say about Hour of Code.
"It makes me feel like I can do anything!" said one girl. Another said "My brother is a programmer and photographer, and now I can follow in his footsteps."
At the end of each lesson, I tell students that they can code at home using free online tutorials available on hourofcode.com. When I ask if they plan on continuing to learn, answers are resoundingly "Yes!"
- Kate Dzikiewicz, Paul Griswold Howes Fellow
We are no longer accepting new reservations for Hour of Code sessions this season, but email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions on how to be notified when we open sign ups for 2018.