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Hour of Code touts accessibility of programming to youngsters

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By Ben Wiebesiek

FIRESTONE — The Carbon Valley Regional Library hosted Hour of Code Dec. 9, a national campaign to teach students an hour of computer programming to help build enthusiasm for computer science. 

The Hour of Code program was hosted across the High Plains Library District, but at the Carbon Valley branch, 7 Park Ave., the program was part of the library’s Club 720, which meets weekly in the library’s computer lab.

 

Susie DeSersa, who runs Club 720 for the library, said Hour of Code was a natural fit for the club.

“Hour of Code is designed to get kids enthusiastic about it,” DeSersa said. “Code is the source of all of their games, and they can learn how to do it too.”

Students started by watching a video from Code.org, the national site for the Hour of Code movement. In the video, students heard from several celebrities about how learning computer programming can open many doors for students in the future.

In a press release from the library district, library spokeswoman Kelli Johnson described learning computer code as a valuable tool for securing jobs.

“Why does computer science, as a subject, account for only 2 percent of enrolled math and science students, when 60 percent of all science and math jobs are in computer science? Better yet, why is the number of computer science graduates dropping (compared to the last decade)?” Johnson said. “America’s computer science jobs are being outsourced because we don’t have enough skilled people to fill local jobs.”

At the Carbon Valley computer lab, the students are far from a difficult audience for this message; many of them jump into the programming tutorial and have a working Javascript program within 15 minutes.

DeSersa isn’t surprised that Club 720, a club that focuses on computer technology, hits the ground running.

“For Club 720, there’s something for everybody,” DeSersa said. “We do different activities just about every week.”

Gaming culture is a big part of what Club 720 explores, and DeSersa said the Hour of Code program ties in nicely with the students’ interests.

“We have an Xbox and a Wii. We have a projection screen so they can play those games,” DeSersa said. “This way they can see how their games are made.”

So far, 10 million students in 170 countries have been exposed to programming through an Hour of Code.