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Walnut Acres Elementary School 5th grader Xander Singh makes an animated greeting card using the Scratch programming language at the school in Walnut Creek, Calif. on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013. The programming lesson was part of the school's celebration of Computer Science Education Week. (Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group)

WALNUT CREEK -- Students at Walnut Acres Elementary and millions of others across the world devoted one hour this week learning how to write computer programs to create online holiday cards or help an Angry Bird catch a wild pig, or any other number of fun activities to celebrate Computer Science Education Week.

"I'm really enjoying this," said 10-year-old Xander Singh, as he used Scratch computer programming to make an interactive holiday card. "You can use your imagination. Basically, you have an idea and you're in charge of the whole process. You have to do it all on your own, so there's a lot of figuring out."

The nonprofit organization Code.org promoted the idea of teaching K-12 students programming through an Hour of Code campaign with online tutorials and videos aimed at getting kids excited about the growing field. The organization predicted that by 2020, there will 1.4 million computer jobs and only 400,000 qualified people to fill them.

At the other end of the Bay Area in San Jose, fourth- and fifth-graders at Bagby Elementary learned coding through an app created by LearnStreet and available on Edmodo, said teacher Sandy McConnell.

"This is the first time I've ever had them do coding," she said. "But, we'll do it again because they just loved it!"

At Walnut Acres, computer tech Patty Galindo taught students in grades K-5 a different hourlong programming lesson throughout the week.

"It's really not hard," Galindo said. "It's like learning a language. The idea is to get kids excited about it."

Michelle Liang, a 16-year-old junior at Northgate High School, founded a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math club -- or STEM -- at the school this year. She and other teens in the club and in the school's Careers in Teaching program helped out with The Hour of Code at Walnut Acres.

"I really would have liked to learn code in elementary school," said Liang, who is pushing Northgate to offer computer science next year.

MORE INFORMATION
Additional details about Computer Science Education Week and the Hour of Code are available by visiting http://csedweek.org.