The coding movement: Resources for computer science education

Computer science education is making its way into K-12 schools, even at the elementary level.

In the middle of a resounding push for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education is a growing movement to expose children to computer science education and skills, also known as computer programming or coding.

According to statistics, computer science is the highest-paid college degree, and jobs in computer programming are growing at two times the national average–but despite that, fewer than 2.4 percent of college students graduate with a degree in computer science.

Forty of 50 states do not count computer science toward math or science requirements for high school graduation, and only 1 in 10 schools offer computer programming classes. That could change, though, because states like Washington are making moves to count Advanced Placement computer science courses toward math and science graduation requirements.

(Next page: Eleven coding resources to engage students)

Online education company Pluralsight recently hosted a series of programming crash courses for children in several Utah schools. The company offers three free programming courses for kids, and CEO Aaron Skonnard said the company hopes to offer dozens more by the end of 2013.

“When we talk about teaching kids to code, we’re usually talking about teaching them to start thinking about logic,” Skonnard said. “Every child in our schools should have an opportunity to be exposed to this; this is now becoming a core essential skill that people need to be exposed to.”

Computer science education and coding advocates point to a number of websites, resources, mobile apps, and more to help teachers and students learn more about coding:

  • Codecademy is a free site that teachers users how to code in various programming languages, including JavaScript and Python, through a serious of courses grouped under each topic or language.
  • After-School Programming is an offshoot of Codecademy.
  • CodeHS offers instructional materials and tutors to help people learn about computer science.
  • Google offers computer science and coding competitions and summer programs.
  • Scratch, developed at MIT, is a free program designed to help children learn coding by programming their own stories, games, and animations.
  • Hopscotch is an iPad app “inspired by” Scratch.
  • Alice teaches students 3D computer programming. Students create stories or videos, or play games.
  • Daisy the Dinosaur, from the creators of Hopscotch, targets children as young as five. Children use coding to make Daisy dance across the screen.
  • Code Monster lets kids view a split screen to see what their coding commands look like as they’re executed.
  • Girls Who Code offers clubs and summer programs for high school girls interested in learning more about computer programming.
  • Lego Mindstorms uses different programming languages for building materials that students use to create programmable robots.

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Laura Ascione

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