OAKLAND -- Joaquin Miller Elementary School joined a worldwide movement called the Hour of Code at a Dec. 5 assembly hosted by Ali Partovi, co-founder of Code.Org.
Partovi formed Code.org with his brother Hadi Partovi. The organization is an educational nonprofit dedicated to expanding the knowledge of computer science and coding by making it available in schools.
Code.Org's goal is that all students will have the opportunity to learn computer programming. The organization offers a web-based curriculum designed to teach people of all ages to code, through short video clips and hands-on activities. The program is an hourlong tutorial that was offered to all of Joaquin Miller's 432 students.
"When I was young, I had to teach myself to program because there was no school to teach me," Partovi told the students. "Even now, most schools don't teach programming. That's why my brother and I started Code.Org."
Partovi explained to students that programming is the mind of the computer.
"Instructing a computer is like telling the dumbest person on earth what to do," he said.
More than one million jobs nationwide go unfilled because people don't know how to write computer code, he said. There are fewer students studying computer programming today than there were a decade ago. Code.Org. seeks to change that with the kickoff of a Computer Science Education Week in mid-December. Earlier this month, 25,000 schools in 160 countries learned how to code, including five million students.
Partovi engaged students with celebrity studded video clips, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and NBA star Chris Bosh. Partovi used the example of the popular game Angry Birds to illustrate the basic principles of coding, having audience members pose as Angry Birds.
Principal Paulette Smith discovered Code.Org. while attending a workshop on technology at UC Berkeley.
"Technology is important to me," Smith said. "I am always looking for the latest trends.
"When I was introduced to Code.Org., I jumped right on it. This is really important to get the message to students."
Smith asked the students how many of them use an "app" on a digital device. The vast majority of the room raised their hands.
"You are digital first learners. You learned this language from birth. When I grew up, not everyone had computers. I didn't get my hands on one until college," Smith said.
"Kids can learn concepts of computer programming before they learn to read and write," Partovi said.
Technology instructor Helene Moore rolled out the computer program in her weekly instruction with the students.
Moore has chosen the links in Code.Org's curriculum that will fine-tune instruction for each grade level.
Moore will be assisted by technologically savvy parents who will support the program.
To learn more about this program, go to www.Code.Org.