Apple has generously launched “Hour of Code,” a program that offers students free one-hour classes to learn about the inner-workings of today’s widgets and gadgets, Cruxial CIO reports.
“Hour of Code” is part of Code.org‘s campaign to broaden the appeal of computer science — especially for women and students of color. Kicking off Computer Science Education Week 2013, President Obama took time out of his busy schedule to urge Americans to take advantage of Apple’s in-store coding classes:
“Don’t just buy a new video game, make one. Don’t just download the latest app, help design it. Don’t just play on your phone, program it,” Obama said. “No one is born a computer scientist, but with a little hard work and some math and scientist, anyone can become one. This week is your shot and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.”
These classes will begin at 5PM today in Apple and Microsoft locations around the country.
Code.org, who has many high-profile sponsors including Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerburg, and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, has a mission to implement coding within the K-12 educational community. The push, in part, is due to U.S. students’ poor track record in math and science.
Among 34 countries, America stands in 26th and 21st place for math and science, respectively, according to UPI. Adding to these dismal numbers, only eight percent of computer science students are of color and only 15 percent are women.
There are 1.4 million computing jobs available in America, but with only 400,000 computer science students, the skills gap is a major issue. The culprit behind these disparties, according to Code.org, is the scarcity of computer programming classes in schools. Only 10 percent of educational institutions offer coding classes and more than 70 percent don’t accept computer science as math credit for graduation. More parents are taking the initiative to get training for their kids. But if your family can’t afford these extra courses, you could get left behind.
To combat these dispiriting statistics, Code.org has secured Angela Bassett, Ashton Kutcher, Shakira and more to endorse the campaign. The nonprofit organization is reminding young America that their minds will pave the future of the U.S. As Obama says, “If we want America to stay on the cutting edge, we need young Americans to master the tools and technology that will change the way we do just about everything.”