Children are some of the most active consumers of interactive media, especially through the increased use of mobile devices. However, despite the influx in consumption by children, schools rarely focus on providing students with the opportunity to produce technology. In fact, only 1 out of 10 schools offers computer programming classes.
At the LFNY, we are working to provide students with exposure to computer programming (also known as coding) and computational thinking (using computer science techniques to solve problems). As Mr. Lynch pointed out, if LFNY students are to be proficient plurilinguals, why shouldn’t they be fluent in the ubiquitous languages of code?
Yet in a school in which students are fluent in three languages, aim towards proficiency across academics, the arts and athletics, why take the time and effort to focus on computer science? I see 3 reasons:
– First, computer science jobs are booming. By 2020, 1.4 million computer science jobs will be available for a mere 400,000 computer science students. 1 million positions may be left unfilled! Despite the career opportunities available in computing, we don’t expect that all LFNY graduates will pursue computer science as a career. However, we do expect that all of our graduates will encounter complex problems that need to be solved, and they will need the expertise to tackle them.
– Second, learning how to program a computer engages students in thinking about challenges, solutions and processes in new ways, developing their deductive reasoning and problem-solving skills. We also know that regardless of their chosen career path, our graduates will be using software and the Web to conduct their work. From electronic medical records to graphic design software, the use of technology is inevitable across disciplines.
– Lastly, an understanding of basic computer science will allow students to better understand the tools of their trades.
Have I convinced you yet? If so, you will be thrilled to know during the week of December 9 to 15, the LFNY will be participating in Computer Science Education Week, an international effort to raise computer science awareness and build skills through encouraging as many people as possible to participate in “an hour of code”.
What is an hour of code, exactly? Well, it depends who you ask.
For a student in CP, determining a set of commands which direct an animated character through mazes to reach goals. A 5ème student may spend her hour helping to lead a coding session at the Scratch Day conference. A 1ère student’s hour of code might be devoted to learning basic HTML to create his online portfolio. As a community, we will be celebrating what is possible when human ingenuity and creativity meet computer processing power and efficiency.
Parents and community members, you are invited to join along with us in our celebration! Please feel free to participate individually or along with your children in any of the guided tutorials linked here to conduct your own hour of code. If you are interested in having your hour be counted towards our LFNY total, please fill out the form here.
As Microsoft executive Brad Smith said: “We need the generation that has grown up with computing devices to lead the way in coding—to start small but dream big, to have fun, to start businesses, to improve people’s lives, and change the world!“
The hour of code is one small step in fulfilling a vision in which computer science becomes an educational staple at the LFNY and academic institutions throughout the world.
Happy Computer Science Education Week!