In the past couple of years, there have been an overwhelming number of stories from media outlets that point out the huge amount of computer science jobs that are available and the dismal number of American students prepared to fill them. You can see some of the sobering statistics on this infographic provided by Kodable. Although coding is not the only requirement for these jobs, many people argue that it would benefit our children to learn this valuable skill.
A recent article, “Why (and How) To Start Teaching Coding in School,” by Kate Wilson for Edudemic, highlights the reasons that support adding coding to the curriculum. One comment that she makes is, “Unfortunately, there’s a stigma we need to break that coding is nerdy, boring, or mostly for boys.” This is very true. I have seen this in my classroom and our school Robotics club. Like many others, I would like to work on removing that stigma. According to CS Education, only 18.6% of the students who took the AP Computer Science Exam in 2013 were female.
Google (who is also offering a free Maker Camp starting in July) is hoping to change statistics like these with its new initiative, “Made with Code.” On the Community page, Google explains, “If girls are inspired to see that Computer Science can make the world more beautiful, more usable, more safe, more kind, more innovative, more healthy, and more funny, then hopefully they will begin to contribute their essential voices. As parents, teachers, organizations, and companies we’re making it our mission to creatively engage girls with code.”
By featuring videos with examples of female mentors and makers in the world of coding, Google hopes to give girls some role models and to show them the many facets of a world that uses code. But that isn’t all. The site is a one-stop-shop for finding coding events in your community, connecting with other coders for help, finding resources, and offering projects that might especially appeal to girls. One example of the latter is the fun “Code a Bracelet” project. My own 11-year-old daughter was enthusiastic about using blocks of programming to design a personalized bracelet that will be printed on a 3-D printer and sent to our home in about 3 weeks for free (courtesy of Shapeways).
I will be adding Made with Code to my “Programming for Kids” Pinterest Board. If you are looking for other posts that I’ve done on this blog (and there have been many) about teaching students to code, please feel free to do a search for “coding.”