Code.org, the non-profit group that offers a free tutorial in computer programming to students as early as kindergarten, is preparing to unveil its second annual “Hour of Code” lesson, but with an assist from Disney designed to attract more girls to participate.
Disney Interactive teamed with Code.org to create a free lesson that teaches students to write computer code that enables Anna and Elsa, the two female characters from Disney’s wildly popular “Frozen” movie, to draw snowflakes, snowmen and fractiles.
The tutorial, at www.code.org/frozen, will begin the second annual “Hour of Code” campaign during Computer Science Education Week Dec. 8 through Dec. 14. The campaign offers free hour-long tutorials in computer coding for students from kindergarten through high school. The lessons are accessible on a range of devices, from tablets to desktops.
Last year, 22 million students around the world participated in the inaugural “Hour of Code”, which featured a tutorial centered around the popular video games Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies and included video lectures from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Entire schools held Hour of Code sessions, but many students also logged on during free time at home.
Code.org later created an online computer programming curriculum that is used in more than 50,000 classrooms across the country. The organization also has provided professional development for teachers in several school districts, including New York and Chicago.
The new “Frozen” tutorial uses a visual drag-and-drop method to create commands that move Anna and Elsa around the ice. It is designed to teach logic and math through introductory computer programming.
The program also will include short video lectures from some women involved in computer science, including Polyvore chief executive Jess Lee, Microsoft engineer Paola Mejia and app developer and model Lyndsey Scott. One of Code.org’s goals is to attack the dearth of female and minority students in computing classes, according to founder Hadi Partovi.
According to the College Board, of the 29,555 students who took the Advanced Placement Computer Science test in 2013, approximately 19 percent were female, 8 percent were Hispanic and 4 percent were black. No females took the exam in three states: Mississippi, Montana and Wyoming. And no black students took the exam in 11 states: Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.