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An Hour of Code

December 15, 2015
AKTEACH: An Hour of Code
By Noelle H. Lowery
Last week, AKTEACH celebrated Computer Science Education week in style with its final Instant Challenge for 2015.

Through AKTEACH and, a non-profit dedicated to expanding computer science education, more than 400 students across the state of Alaska and even some in Minnesota participated in an “Hour of Code” event. Students from Ouzinkie School, Larsen Bay, Main Elementary, St. Paul School in the Pribelofs, Eagle Community School in the Alaska Gateway School District and Eden Prairie school in Minnesota participated in the Instant Challenge.

Touted as a way to introduce and engage students in a computer science activity, an “Hour of Code” is a global phenomenon, reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries — all ages, all learners and no previous experience is required. An “Hour of Code” teaches students foundational computer science principals and skills through puzzles, art and characters with whom they are familiar and love, such as Minecraft, Star Wars and Disney’s Infinity characters. 

A library of one-hour tutorials are available to walk students through the creation of an interactive card or the basics of Java Script. Each tutorial is self-guided, allowing students to learn at their own pace, and by the end of an hour, students have a solid idea of how basic computer programming and engineering works. There even are unplugged options that can be done without computers and in the great outdoors to help illustrate the point that computational thinking is not just about computers.

The “Hour of Code” movement was started in response to the fact that the growth in computer science jobs is outpacing the growth in the number of computer science students. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow between 8 and percent through 2022 — much faster than the average for all occupations the bureau studies.

Part of KIBSD, AKTEACH organized its “Hour of Code” as one of its Instant Challenges. Since November 2014, AKTEACH has offered these challenges to students involved in Alaskans Transforming Educational Access within Communities and Homes (AKTEACH) distance learning program. Previous challenges have included a hands-on activity where students are given a limited amount of supplies and charged with building or creating a tower structure, a container that will keep an egg safe when dropped or launching mechanisms. Students even have collaborated with the Alaska Energy Authority to test insulation and how it affects energy conservation. Each challenge connects students in the AKTEACH partner districts: Lower Kuskokwim, Lower Yukon, Alaska Gateway, Pribelof Island, AKTEACH Homeschool students and both KIBSD in-town and rural schools. 

Here are some of the things teachers shared with AKTEACH after the “Hour of Code” event:
  • ”Chiniak students were so excited they wanted to code more that evening. Thank You!”
  • “The Hour of Code was AWESOME!! Best AKTEACH event yet for us here in Eagle. My students really enjoyed it, and two of them have decided to keep going. I set them up with some more options based on the selections at the end of the program."
  • “We had a total of 661 lines of code for 19 students. Thanks, the students had a blast!"
  • “They are really enjoying it.”
After such an incredible event, Anthony White, AKTEACH Virtual Content and STEM Program Coordinator, says they intend to continue promoting Computer Science education in the classroom. White personally will be following up with teachers at interested partner schools with links and resources, allowing them the opportunity to continue exposing students to computer programming and the wonderful learning experiences that this field of study offers.