The Hour of Code arrives at UMBC

The Hour of Code arrives at UMBC

In today’s world, computers play a large role in daily life. Computers which once filled an entire room can now fit inside a pocket. Eighty-four percent of people in the United States currently own a computer. Since so many people need computers, a global movement called “Hour of Code” has been created to teach people computer science.

Hadi and Ali Partovi of the website code.org launched this program in December of 2013 to teach students computer programming. According to their website, code.org is a “non-profit dedicated to expanding access to computer science and increasing participation by women and underrepresented minorities.”

The Hour of Code is available to students in over 180 countries to people of all ages. It is also available in over 45 different languages. As of 2017, 200,000 educators across the globe have partnered with Hour of Code.

The Hour of Code boasts a diverse group of participants. Though only 20 percent of computer science graduates nationwide are women, 48 percent of participants in the hour of code are women.

For Computer Science Education Week, students led the second annual UMBC Hour of Code, which had events two days in a row. Last year, an article about this event was published in The Baltimore Sun.

The first meeting was on Monday Dec. 4, when students gathered on Main Street from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. On the subsequent day, students from Lakeland Elementary/Middle School met in the Sports Zone from 11 a.m. to noon for a fun “Minecraft” sandbox video game coding activity. From noon to 2 p.m.,  UMBC students joined the Hour of Code while Lakeland students participated in breakout activities with volunteers. President Freeman Hrabowski joined the Lakeland Elementary/Middle students in coding.

The Computer Science Education student group organized the event along with Marie desJardins, College of Engineering and Information Technology Associate Dean, Megean Garvin, Computer Science Matters Research Associate, Acacia Asbell, Sherman STEM Teacher Scholars Program project director, and Ramna Dowdell, Peaceworker Fellow with the Shriver Center.

According to freshman computer engineering major and member of Honors College Benjamin R. Padgette, “The goal of this event is to use student ability in computer science to lead fun coding exercises to get local youth of all backgrounds excited and inspired about the possibilities of studying and working in computer science in the future, a field that currently suffers from major gender and ethnic disparity,” says Padgette.

President of the Computer Science Education organization and senior computer science and psychology major Stephanie Milani believes that, despite the discrepancy in demographics of those who code, it does not always have to be this way. “We hope that this even will help people feel like they are able to learn computer science and that computer science is for them,” Miliani says.

Hour of Code is one of multiple reasources that code.org offers parents, teachers and students. Those interested in bringing computer science to their communities, can use materials on the code.org website to host an Hour of Code or encourage local educators to teach computer science.