Code.org Kicks Off Computer Science Education Week at White House

By Sam Atkeson — December 08, 2014 2 min read
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Educators, students, and industry leaders in the fields of science and technology convened at the White House today to kick off this year’s Computer Science Education Week.

At center stage was Seattle-based nonprofit Code.org, a founding partner of Computer Science Education Week and lead organizer of “Hour of Code"—a grassroots movement aimed at introducing computer programming to students worldwide.

About 76,000 classrooms across 180 countries have pledged to participate in Hour of Code this week, joining the 52 million students who have already taken part since the campaign’s launch last year.

The grassroots effort has become known for its many high-profile endorsements, including Elsa and Anna of Disney’s Frozen, who recently appeared in a new tutorial from the campaign. Among the list of Hour of Code ambassadors are Bill Gates, Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandburg, and actor Ashton Kutcher.

In a video released on Code.org’s YouTube channel this morning, President Obama encouraged students to try computer science by telling them that “becoming a computer scientist isn’t as scary as it sounds”.

“Don’t just consume things, create things,” said Obama, who took part in an Hour of Code at the White House earlier today.

“Whether you’re a young man trying his hand at programming for the first time or a young woman who’s already hard at work on the next big thing,” Obama added, “we’re counting on you, America’s young people, to keep us on the cutting edge”

Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi and National Science Foundation Director France Córdova announced a public-private partnership to expand computer science education in 60 U.S. school districts, including the seven largest school systems.

Partovi also pledged to prepare 25,000 educators to teach computer science by the fall of 2016. Training of the first 10,000 teachers, who will begin teaching the courses this coming fall, is currently underway.

Lastly, Partovi expressed a commitment to the issue of diversity in the technology field, with the goal of enabling one million girls and one million black and Hispanic students to take an introductory course in computer science over the next two years.

“These aren’t ideals,” said Partovi, who moderated a panel discussion of education, science, and technology leaders. “These are solutions. We already have the staff and the funding...hold us accountable.”

Recently, $20 million in new funding came from a range of corporations, foundations and individuals, including top tech companies Google and Microsoft. Contributions also continue to pour in from the most successful Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to date—which, with seven days left, has raised $4.3 million of its $5 million goal.

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Photo: President Barack Obama participates in Hour of Code at the White House on Monday, Dec. 8, with middle school students from Newark, N.J.'s South Seventeenth Street School, Code.org Co-Founder Hadi Partovi, and Chief Technology Officer of the United States Megan Smith. (Code.org).

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.