Kentucky Initiative Pushes Computer Science Awareness

A new public awareness initiative in Kentucky is geared toward the promotion of computer science education.

Launched by the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation and Kentucky Department of Education, the goal of the new campaign is to register 1 million coding events for the “Hour of Code” set to take place this December in an effort to show the public that one hour is all that is necessary to introduce anyone to coding.

The global campaign is sponsored by Code.org, a nonprofit group looking to bring attention to computer science within schools.  The initiative hopes to increase awareness of coding as relevant to daily life.

“Providing access to computer science for all K-12 students is a vision that we share with Kentucky’s leaders. I encourage all parents, teachers and schools to help your students participate in the “Hour of Code” movement this December. Even one hour of exposure to computer science can be enough to inspire students to keep learning and change the course of their lives,” says Cameron Wilson, COO & VP of Government Affairs, Code.org.

Weiss announced the campaign last week during IdeaFestival, a celebration of innovative ideas that offers attendees the opportunity to learn about the initiative and introduce them to the world of coding.  Volunteers are available to show the public how easy it is to “get coding” at any of the coding stations available on a daily basis at the festival, on a mobile device, or in their own homes.

“The conversation and public awareness campaigns surrounding computer science education are extraordinarily important,”Susan Weiss, president and CEO of Net Tango Inc., said in a news release. Weiss is also a KSTC board member.

“There are many more job openings for computer science expertise than students to fill them,” Weiss continued. “These are high-paying jobs and exciting careers. If we can expose, encourage and educate more students about these opportunities, we can solve one of the larger economic problems facing our state.”

Kentucky was previously acknowledged by Code.org for its forward-thinking state policy that counts computer science toward high school graduation credits.  Students are allowed to take the Advanced Placement Computer Science A course as their fourth math credit required for graduation.

The course teaches students Java programming and offers college credit for those who take it.  While enrollment in the course continues to rise, the volume of needs is still higher.

A new AP course, the Joy and Beauty of Computing, will be announced at the AdvanceKentucky Fall Forum this November, with the first AP exam expected to be administered in 2017.

“AdvanceKentucky is pleased to support the effort for many more young people to be exposed to coding. We see in schools across the state how talented students are and they thrive on new opportunities,” said Joanne Lang, executive director of AdvanceKentucky, a partnership between KDE and KSTC founded as the state’s affiliate with the National Math and Science Initiative.