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Students this week learning to write computer code

Part of Computer Science Education Week

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 8, 2015) — More than 750 Kentucky schools, businesses and organizations have signed up to participate in this year’s Computer Science Education Week, which began Monday.

As part of the effort, students, teachers, parents and policymakers are encouraged to participate in an Hour of Code, a worldwide, hands-on experience in learning to write computer code. This year there are more than 172,000 events registered worldwide. Since its inception in 2013, more than 100 million students in 180 countries have participated in Hour of Code events.

“The Hour of Code is a great way to introduce students to computer science,” Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt said. “Coding not only teaches students technical skills, but also fosters creativity and problem-solving skills that students will need in any future career.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that occupations related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics will grow to more than 9 million between 2012 and 2022, an increase of about 1 million jobs over 2012 employment levels.

By 2020 there will be one million more computer programming jobs than students graduating from college with this skill, according to Code.org, a national, non-profit organization, which sponsors the Hour of Code.

Today, there are almost 2,400 information technology jobs available in Kentucky. However, industries requiring computing professionals are diverse — two-thirds of computing jobs are in sectors other than information technology, including manufacturing, defense, health care, finance and government.

No experience is needed to participate in the Hour of Code. Students can choose from self-guided tutorials that work on any modern browser, tablet or cellphone and may take part even if they don’t have a computer.

Computer science education is catching on in Kentucky. The number of students taking AP Computer Science is growing. In the last five years the number of students taking the AP exam has increased 106 percent.

The number of female students taking the course has increased over the last seven years to nearly 30 percent of AP computer science students. The number of minority students in the course also has increased.

Kentucky Department of Education guidance states that based on course standards and the teacher of record, a computer science course can qualify as a 4th mathematics course or an elective science course if it involves computational thinking, problem solving, computer programming, and a significant emphasis on the science and engineering practices from the Kentucky Academic Standards.

For example, a student who takes and passes AP Computer Science, may count it as one of the mathematics credits required for graduation as defined by Kentucky’s minimum high school graduation requirements.

Students will have another computer science option next school year when, a new AP Computer Science Principles course becomes available. The course is centered on big ideas designed to help introduce computer science to students by focusing on how computing can impact the world.

Along with the fundamentals of computing, the course takes a broader view of computer science that involves creativity, abstraction, data and Information, algorithms, programming, the Internet and the impact of computing on the way people, think, work, live and play.

In addition to the AP computer science courses, many Kentucky schools offer coding classes – either as part of regular course offerings or as an extracurricular activity.