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Friday, 13 December 2013 22:23

Hour of Code Events Spark Interest With Students

A two-day Hour of Code event at Hillcrest High this week was a big hit with students — and not just because of the free pizza. If the popularity of teacher Ed Mondragon’s regular computer programming class is any indication, it’s the binary code that’s drawing them in, and it’s just in time.

“Folks, it’s not outrageously hard,” Mondragon told about 20 students who came to participate in the after-school event. “It takes some thinking and it takes some dedication, but learning how to learn is tremendously valuable.”

Programmers from Microsoft — including a former Husky — and graduate students in computer programming came to mentor the students and give advice on how to prepare for a career in computer science. It’s important to start early by taking computer classes and practicing programming outside of school in order to stay competitive, they said.

To the uninitiated, learning computer programming may be daunting, but it is a skill that is of increasing importance, Mondragon says, and may someday be a matter of literacy. He refers to a quote hanging on his wall by Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg — “In 15 years we’ll be teaching programming just like reading and writing and wondering why we didn’t do it sooner,” it says — as he explains his motivation for starting Hillcrest High School’s first computer programming class this year.

That’s the same idea behind the Hour of Code, a national initiative to encourage every student to try computer science for one hour during Computer Science Education Week, Dec. 9-15, 2013. Anyone can try out writing a computer program by visiting csedweek.org and following the tutorial. So far, more than 13 million people have visited the site.

Other events throughout the District took place in honor of the Hour of Code. Hillcrest High School’s robotics team provided a demonstration of their award-winning robot at an event organized by the Wasatch Institute of Technology at Adobe on Tuesday, Dec. 10.  Dozens of local businesses and organizations, such as Harmons and the Red Cross, attended to show students career possibilities in the field of computer science.

BrightonAlta and Jordan High also hosted Hour of Code events early in the morning, during the day and after school. For female students interested in learning computer programming, Canyons Technical Education Center offers intensive sessions in the Girls Who Code course every summer.
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