#HourofCode 2016: Superstars Spreading Programming Love

Hour of Code teaches students of all backgrounds how to program (Getty)

To mark Computer Science Education Week educators across the globe participated in programming lessons during Hour of Code events.

Athletes have joined the call for greater STEM education especially among minorities. The nonprofit leading the campaign, Code.org, will launch a sports-themed code tutorial and feature internationally recognizable athletes like Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.

There’s high demand for computer science skills, with more than half a million computer science jobs available nationwide, according to Code.org. However, last year less than 43,000 computer science students graduated into the workforce.

The lack of representation in tech jobs may be one reason for the trickle of computer science majors. Males hold 80 percent of tech jobs, and 94 percent of workers in the field are white or Asian, Mother Jones reports. This computer science skills gap has forged unlikely coding advocates like President Obama. Here’s a roundup of icons Code.org has recruited to support its global programming movement.

Draymond Green

To raise awareness for the third annual Hour of Code, the organization turned to basketball athletes like Kobe Bryant and the Golden State Warrior’s player Draymond Green. Code.org found representatives in athletes across sports such as Serena Williams, Neymar Jr and Sergio Ramos.

Code.org kicked off Computer Science Education Week on December 5 with a video of Green visiting Oakland High School students learning computer science. The Golden State Warriors supports greater access to coding skills to minorities through its community platform Warriors Code.

Tim Cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook surprised students from a public school in New York during the 2015 Hour of Code session. During the event at a makeshift school located in a East Harlem Apple Store, Cook met students eight to nine years old, reports Mashable. Apple has worked with Code.org for years, providing Hour of Code sessions at all its retail locations the during Computer Science Education Week. Cook says he has seen interest in adding computer science courses to curriculums.

“Sometimes education doesn’t move as fast as any of us would like, but I think there are a lot of great teachers out there and a lot of great people out there who really want to improve the quality of education,” Cook told Mashable.

Barack Obama

Ahead of the 2014 Hour of Code, President Obama encouraged students to sign up for an Hour of Code event saying, “don’t just consume things, create things.” He also became the first president to write a line of code as part of online tutorial based off of the Disney movie Frozen. Here’s the line of Javascript he wrote: moveForward(100)

The Obama Administration also announced the Computer Science for all Initiative in January, a program that sets aside billions in funds for training teachers and providing more educational resources. States will receive $4 billion with additional funds coming from the National Science Foundation and Corporation for National and Community Service. The press release announcing the initiative highlighted gender-race disparities in computer science education while noting the tremendous growth in computer science jobs.

Providing access to CS is a critical step for ensuring that our nation remains competitive in the global economy and strengthens its cybersecurity. Last year, there were over 600,000 tech jobs open across the United States, and by 2018, 51 percent of all STEM jobs are projected to be in CS-related fields.

Microsoft and Disney

Students can connect with their favorite characters during Hour of Code (Code.org)

Fans of Minecraft have something to look forward to in this year’s Hour of Code. Microsoft, which bought Minecraft in 2014, granted Code.org the rights to use the popular video game’s name for one of its coding tutorials. One of Code.org’s largest donors, Microsoft also provided developers who made the video game-themed tutorial, which had been requested by students, according to the Seattle Times. Code.org has also worked with Disney to include other sources of pop culture like Star Wars and Moana in its tutorials.

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