Who better to teach computer science than Harvard’s own renowned dropouts Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates? Sure, those lessons sound like a luxury only granted to the employees behind Facebook and Microsoft, but Code.org wants to open the oppportunity to 10 million students — and all in one hour.
On Monday, the nonprofit, dedicated solely to promoting computer science education, announced a nationwide campaign called “Hour of Code.” Through the campaign, Code.org is trying to demistify computer science for K-12 students by walking them through introductory tutorials that can be completed online, on a smartphone or even unplugged.
The event is a component of Computer Science Education Week, taking place from December 9 to 15, and has garnered the support of Gates and Zuckerberg, who will serve as guest lecturers for the online tutorial. The course is designed as a game that teaches basic coding principles, and will feature artwork from popular games, such as “Angry Birds” and “Plants vs. Zombies.”
Other big-name brands, including Google and Twitter, have also had their engineers help create the tutorial. Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman and Dropbox’s Drew Houston have all jumped on as founding donors, and is being supported locally by the Mass Technology Leadership Council, Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network and Nicholas Negroponte, chairman and founder of the MIT Media Lab.
Now, what Code.org needs is for parents, educators and the like to ask their local school to participate, as well as encourage their employer to schedule a one-hour team-building event, so everyone can learn to code together.
The first 100,000 educators who sign on to host an Hour of Code for their classroom or club will receive 10 gigabytes of free storage from Dropbox, while 50 schools — one in every state — who organizes the event will win a full class-set of computers. Gates, Dorsey and Google’s Susan Wojcicki have also volunteered to give a group video conference to 50 other classrooms.
“Thanks to the amazing support of new partners and donors, the Hour of Code campaign will launch our long-term mission to give every student the opportunity to learn computer science,” said Hadi Partovi, Code.org’s co-founder and CEO, in a release. “This isn’t just about the tremendous job opportunities in software – every 21st century child can benefit from learning this foundational field.”
For more on the power of computer science, check out the promotional video by Code.org below, featuring the likes of Gates, Zuckerberg, Houston and Dorsey.