Hour of Code Initiative Engages Middle School Girls in Computer Science

Code Fellows helped deliver code instruction to 200 middle school girls in Washington.

The Hour of Code initiative expects to reach more than 2.3 million students worldwide by providing basic computer programming instruction.

Common Core's standards are no more rigorous than the average state standards were.

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Heading in to the event, Witcher says the biggest challenge the teachers and staff from Code Fellows were likely to face was to convince the students that coding is not boring or geeky, but rather an "interactive and creative process." By the end of the hour, however, Witcher says the hardest part was getting the girls to stop coding.

"We were really amazed at how well they engaged with it," Witcher says.

[SEE ALSO: How to Get Middle and High School Students Interested in STEM]

Learning the basics of coding and programming doesn't just help pique girls' interests in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Witcher says. It's also a way to incorporate the arts.

"I see coding as a way to sort of build that natural bridge between curriculum areas you wouldn't normally see a connection between," Witcher says. "Art and math all of a sudden become game design, and science and writing can become the problem solving of debugging a piece of code."

And that's just what the girls did. In one tutorial, the girls used Scratch programming to move a puppy around the screen. In another, the girls could create animated holiday cards and snowmen. "This experience showed them coding is cool, it's current, it's relevant, and it's something happening all over the world that they can be a part of," Witcher says. "They're creating something, and creating something is cool."

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    • Allie Bidwell

      Allie Bidwell is an education reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at sbidwell@usnews.com.