Computer Science Week: breaking the stigma
November 19th, 2017
“Coding just isn’t my thing.” It is very likely many of you have said that at one time or another. The idea of being able to write programs on the computer is often thought of as some inherent ability people either have or do not have. However, as proven countless times, coding seems to be a skill in which one can be trained and that can be developed. In fact, there has been a large endeavour to spread this message to the public, thus spurring the movement we now know as Hour of Code.
According to a survey conducted by those who organize this campaign, nearly 90% of parents would like their children to learn some form of computer science while only a disproportionate 40% of schools provide the programs and courses to teach kids. Aside from perhaps the lack of qualified educators, a lot comes from the attitude of students who see this as an “impossible” subject to understand.
This is where code.org comes in, the first innovators of what we now know as Computer Science Week. Their goal is to provide an outlet so that even those with the least knowledge in computer science can get an understanding of how things work while still having fun. They have been able to do this by creating games that are oriented around programming, but add a form of novelty and incentive to continue playing. There can be sandbox or role-playing games, which have players navigate via pre-made programming prompts with clear step-by-step guidelines, explaining the purpose of different commands.
Having started in 2013, the program is now an established, yearly event that lasts an entire week from December 4 to 10. It is available in countless countries and has already been used by over 400 000 students across the globe. These students, through the Hour of Code, have been exposed to an entirely new way of problem-solving and being creative. Hour of Code may even have had a lasting impression on many students, and will help them decide to further this passion in their post-secondary pathways and their careers. However, all who have taken part have come to the same conclusion that was anticipated by those who promoted the event: anyone can program.
Big players in information technology have stepped up to promote this as well, from Mark Zuckerberg to Bill Gates. Along with other big companies, they have sponsored many of these events so that they can run at their full capacity. It is clear that they are also hoping that they are training the future engineers and programmers of their companies, no matter their gender. In fact, many initiatives have also been taking place specifically for female-identified youth to get into programming, for there currently is a disparity in male to female programmers. Organizations such as Girls Who Code and Girls Develop It have been trying to promote this to girls who may feel discouraged to take part in what they think to be a “boys’ subject”.
Victoria Park itself will take part in this week of fun problem-solving. During the week of December 4th, feel free to visit the open computer labs at lunch to partake in some fun programming games online. Who knows, maybe you will discover a new hobby or even a career option.