Hour of Code Aiming for a Billion Served in 2019
Written by Lucy Black   
Friday, 22 November 2019

There's a new theme for this year's Hour of Code. While anyone can engage in an Hour of Code activity at any time, Its prime time is in Computer Science Education Week, which takes place December 9-15, 2019 with thousands of events planned around the world.

Hadi Partovi, CEO of Code.org proposed the Hour of Code as an initiative to ensure that every school pupil in the United States was given an opportunity to discover computer programming. Even before the original event in 2013, it spread to other countries and became an instant success. The initial aim was to reach 10 million participants, specifically school pupils in the US. At the end of CSEd Week 2013 over 16 Million people has learned an Hour of Code, with about two-thirds of the participating students were from the United States.

In subsequent years, Hour Of Code has gone from strength to strength and this year's aim is to pass the 1 Billion milestone. Judging from this statistic it is quite a modest aim:hocstats

A new theme has been announced for this year's Hour of Code: Computer Science for Good. According to Code.org:

Inspired by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Hour of Code will highlight how we can all use computer science to make a positive impact on our world, from writing apps to solve a local problem, to using innovative ideas in data science to address global challenges.


If this rings bells, the UN Sustainable Development Goals formed the basis of Google's AI Impact Challenge and Microsoft's ImagineCup has had the long-term aim of "Imagine a world in which technology could be used to solve big social problems".

If you think that "Computer Science For Good" is a bit far fetched for 7 year olds then remember that the school pupils are only part of the target audience for the Hour of Code. The teachers are another segment and in the theme gives them something to develop in the classroom setting. Policy makers are another part of the audience and Code.org has proved very successful at attracting the attention of world leaders, for example President Obama Experiences An Hour of Code and also effecting significant change in US schools. Hadi Partovi recently emailed us that:

Every state has now adopted a K-12 computer science policy! This month, we saw another major milestone with all 50 U.S. states passing at least 1 of the 9 recommended policies that help facilitate making computer science available to all K-12 students. Not only is this a huge win for CS education nationally, but states who adopt more policies also see a higher percentage of girls taking K-12 CS courses.

Having made so much progress with its original aim of making Computer Science accessible to all US school pupils and in particular to girls and under-represented minorities, focusing on another ambitious goal seems a good idea.

Fitting the new theme, Microsoft has come up with a new Minecraft Hour of Code with the title "AI for Good". It challenges students aged 7 and over to use coding to prevent forest fires by training the Agent to identify what causes fires, remove materials that help fires spread, and then bring life back to a forest destroyed by fire – all with code. 


This Hour of Code tutorial is a demo lesson in Minecraft: Education Edition and will be available to those who don't have a license. It uses block-based coding, specifically MakeCode and it available for Windows, Mac and iOS - but only for iPad and not for iPhones. It is not compatible with Chromebooks, although previous Minecraft Hour of Code Tutorials are.

Don't expect to find the new theme everywhere.Tutorials from previous years are still available and are going to be recycled with a new audience of school kids. Dance Party,  which proved a big hit last year, has been expanded and features new backgrounds, new coding blocks, and new music from artists including Lil Nas X, Jonas Brothers and Katy Perry. There's also a new dancer - Sloth,  the winning entry in a contest to draw a new character which attracted over 400 submissions. Sloth, designed by a middle schooler Genevieve P., from New Jersey is in the middle of this line-up:


Hour of Code is a global event and it's an opportunity for developers to help introduce coding to the next generation. Code.org encourages volunteers to get involved and maintains a database of those who can either turn up at a classroom in person or provide support online through video conferencing. If you are a computer science student or a software professional and at least 18 years old, there's a form to fill in and volunteers details are added to an interactive map that teachers can use to find both local and remote help.



More Information

Hour of Code

Volunteer for the Hour of Code

CSED Week website

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 23 November 2019 )