Anna and Elsa Join the Hour of Code 2014
Last year, Code.org, a non-profit organization that encourages students to learn computer science, launched the Hour of Code to introduce simple coding concepts and promote incorporating computer programming curriculum along with other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses in schools. The initiative coincides with Computer Science Education Week held from December 8–14.
For 2014, Disney Interactive, along with engineers from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter, created a one-hour activity with drag and drop programming to help the popular heroines Anna and Elsa do things like create snowflakes and magical “ice craft.”
The Disney princess-themed tutorial is designed to spark interest in young girls and broaden female participation in computer science. But if Frozen doesn’t appeal, there’s also Angry Birds and many other free tutorials for students from kindergarten through high school. Instead of spending an hour watching TV or YouTube videos, children ages four and up are exposed to the basics of coding. It may spark a life-long interest, or simply be a fun problem-solving exercise.
The tutorial’s introductory video features women in the tech industry, along with Bill Gates, who explains that he was in eighth grade when he learned to program, and Mark Zuckerberg, who recalls that he got his first computer when he was in the sixth grade. Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom says, “Getting started is the most important part.”
During the inaugural Hour of Code, the Code.org website notes that more than 10 million students in 170 countries participated. Courses are available in more than thirty languages.
Along with a host of celebrity endorsements, young Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai also challenges girls to do the Hour of Code program. “Every girl deserves a complete education and every girl deserves to take part in creating the technology that will change our world and change who runs it.”