Anyone, at Any Age, Can Code. And it May Only Take 60 Minutes to Prove That.

Congress MIddle School eighth grade student standing in media center preparing for Hour of Code

It is the largest education event in history.

Across 180 different countries, millions of students are discovering that coding may be more than possible this week, as a coordinated effort begins to bring programming out from the perception of mysterious databases and broaden the field of computer science.  

Seventh grade students at Congress Middle School filled the Media Center on Monday morning and were surprised to see so many recognizable celebrities staring right back at them, including tennis sensation Serena Williams, global soccer icon Neymar and for the more politically astute, Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau.

The Hour of Code uses the voice of the popular to convey a very basic message that “getting really good at something isn’t easy. It takes years of persistence and hard work.” The surprise on the students faces were all part of the Hour of Codes fundamental calculation, and specifically what Principal Denise O’Connor counted on.

“Technology is the wave of the future, and it is very important that we prepare our kids to whatever careers they may embark on in the future and get them college and career ready,” O’Connor said. Congress Middle School has a competitive Digital Video and Graphic Design program that introduces students to identify, analyze and create various forms of graphic art through a project-based curriculum. The deadline to apply for all School District Choice programs for the 2018-2019 school year is January 26, 2018.

A review committee that includes representatives from Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the College Board have come together to celebrate Computer Science Education Week with what is known as the Hour of Code. The premise is to expose students, of all ages, of all backgrounds, that coding is possible. And although a counter on the Hour of Code website currently boasts 482,237,705 hours served, success will be more abstractly measured in time by increasingly diverse enrollment and participation in computer science courses.

“It is visual.  It is logistical.  It’s basically like putting together a puzzle,” Wisno Lormejuste, Computer Science Teacher at Congress Middle School, said.  

Enrique Vela, Principal at Woodlands Middle School, is equally confident in a possibility that the Hour of Code may spark something more in each of his students.

“By teaching students how to code, we are teaching them new ways to think in an environment where their creative minds can flourish,” said Vela. Woodlands has a Pre-Information Technology program that offers a starting point for students to become familiar with the Computer Science and IT workforce, integrating elements of technology and communications.

Minouche Turenne, who teaches Computer Science at Woodlands, offered one of the distinct benefits to participating in the schools Pre-Information Technology Choice program.

“Students have an opportunity to earn a certification in coding, in web design, and they can also advance to the IBA program and an earn a high school credit,” Turenne said.  

For students throughout Palm Beach County, sixty minutes of coding may have just been the very first hour in a lifetime of learning computer science and programming.