D.C. students who signed up for the Hour of Code this week had some highly skilled people to help them as they typed through the online coding tutorial from a conference room at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center on K Street.
The software and computer services giant invited students who are already getting exposure to high-tech fields at school to a session with its experts. The students attend new Information Technology academies at McKinley Tech, Cardozo High, and Friendship Collegiate Public Charter School.
D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) and Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson congratulated the teens after they finished on Thursday.
“Coding is huge. Whether you go into coding or not, it teaches you how to think,” Henderson told them. “If you do this right, you can come work at places like this and make a lot of money.”
Then, she said, they can come back and teach future D.C. students.
The week-long “Hour of Code” campaign has exposed tens of millions of students around the world to the basics of computer coding. President Obama kicked off the event Monday by typing out a line of code himself while meeting with some middle school students from Newark, N.J.
The District invested $2.8 million in nine new career academies in city high schools that were scheduled to open this year.
Gray said the city’s old vocational programs were training people for jobs that no longer exist. The new academies are supported by professional industry partners and focus on three growing and high income fields: information technology, hospitality and engineering.
Students at the new IT academies said they are learning about graphic design and creating computer applications.
Larnelle Hardy, a 17-year old senior at McKinley Tech, had an internship at Microsoft last summer, where he developed games. This year, as Henderson described it,“Larnelle’s summer internship went big.”
He and a few friends are starting their own gaming company. Microsoft is paying for space for them at 1776, a hub for technology start-ups.
They are working on a game about a school where all the teachers and staff are zombies and the objective is to free the students, Hardy said. They are thinking of calling it “Liberator.”
The company’s name? T-Street Games, for the street that McKinley Tech is on.