What do Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, Arianna Huffington, Al Gore, Susan Wojcicki, and Mark Zuckerberg have in common—other than being incredibly bright and wildly successful? This is a small representative sample of the brilliant bunch sharing their stories at Code.org on the importance of teaching code to our youth. Learning to code inspires creativity, teaches problem solving, empowers kids, and is a skill set required for some of the very best jobs in the country. From agriculture to space exploration to entertainment to manufacturing, coding is essential to the future of our technology and our workplaces. Best of all: coding teaches kids how to think.
Today, while only 1 in 10 of our schools teach coding, over 1 million jobs go unfulfilled because our workforce lacks the necessary skill sets. Inviting coding classes into our schools ushers our next team of creative and confident thinkers into the 20th century. Venture capitalists are looking to support technology entrepreneurs and fund the technology growth sector—but the skills must be cultivated from an early age and then we must foster continuous skill growth to build off this awaiting platform of opportunity.
Coding, as part of a nation-wide IT curriculum with an emphasis on STEM/STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) disciplines, is an integral curriculum component for ongoing educational and economic success. It’s the only way Milwaukee and the US stays relevant over time in the global marketplace. So this isn’t about learning code just to learn code. It’s about exposing our kids and students to new opportunities and careers in these growing technical fields, thereby bolstering our brains alongside our economy.
Resources: Where to Start
The great news is that the web is FULL of valuable resources that make learning code fun, exciting, and accessible, and multiple initiatives to get coding into our standard school curriculums.
- Code.org: Sign the petition backed by some of our best and brightest to ensure every student has the opportunity to learn code.
- Mozilla Webmaker Projects and Tools: “Make something amazing with the web.” These collaborative online projects and tools pull together a “global community of creators.”
- Codecademy: Learn all kind of code with this fun and easy interface anytime—and it’s free.
- Codery: Earn badges for your coding accomplishments through Codery and Mozilla’s ground-breaking Open Badge program.
- Locally, Washington High School of Information Technology offers students in Milwaukee foundational curriculum for future IT careers.
- Uplift, Inc: This program immerses students in IT, bolstering skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) branches through mobile app development, game design, and other unique and exciting projects and classes.
- Connect a Million Minds: Inspires kids to learn technology through a variety of campaigns centered on STEM discipline areas.
- NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory: Just one of NASA’s programs to get adults and kids alike interested in science and space technology.
There are MANY more programs and opportunities out there to get coding integrated into the way we learn. (Just check out this great list from EdSurge.) Now we need to commit to this approach and implement these programs at the local level. Our future depends on it!