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Learn new computing skills in just 60 minutes

USC Viterbi helps K-12 schools take part in the Hour of Code, which offers engaging projects and unplugged activities

students with computers
Coding options will be available for young or more adventurous pupils.

Can children grasp the basics of computer science in a short period of time?

The Hour of Code, which offers an easy and engaging array of 60-minute coding projects, aims to encourage 100 million people worldwide to acquire computing skills from Dec. 8-14.

Sponsored by the nonprofit organization Code.org, the grass-roots push attracted 15 million students from all corners of the globe last year.

Many of the schools partnering with the USC Viterbi School of Engineering are participating by having students try at least one of the movement’s simple coding projects.

Computational thinking

For elementary students, one option uses the coding language Scratch to enable youngsters to program the ice skating patterns from Frozen. For more adventurous students, the Hour of Code offers modules teaching JavaScript or Python. Each project offers tutorials to get people started. There are even “unplugged” activities that teach computational thinking without a computer. The Hour of Code takes place during Computer Science Education Week.

USC Viterbi’s K-12 STEM Outreach program Viterbi Adopt-a-School, Adopt-a-Teacher — works with numerous schools and teachers. To encourage participation in the Hour of Code, VAST will offer two opportunities for teachers to connect with USC computer science undergraduates in one of VAST’s “Code Dojos.” The Japanese word “dojo” is linked to places where martial arts is taught.

On Dec. 8, from noon to 2 p.m., and on Dec. 10, from 9 to 11 a.m., “Code Dojos” will offer informal drop-in sessions staffed by USC Viterbi undergraduate students majoring in computer science. The resident coding experts will field questions or talk about their own experiences in coding. Teachers can drop by in person or via Google Hangouts for help on one of the coding projects or simply to have their students chat with a USC Viterbi student about how he or she took an interest in coding.

“In one week last year, 15 million students tried an Hour of Code,” said Hadi Partovi, founder and CEO of Code.org. “Now we’re aiming to prove that the demand for relevant 21st-century computer science education crosses all borders and knows no boundaries.”

The Code.org site offers tips for teachers on how to bring Hour of Code into their classroom as well as prizes their classes can win, including an all expenses-paid trip for a class to Washington D.C.

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