From December 2 through 13, over 2,500 West Michigan students were exposed to computer programming. West Michigan Tech Talent (WMTT), an industry talent council, organized the lessons as a part of the global Hour of Code initiative.

Hour of Code introduces basic computing concepts to broaden interest in computer science. In West Michigan, local tech professionals guide students through basic coding exercises and share their experience of working in the tech field ̶ all to get kids excited about career opportunities in IT.

Over the two week period, students from three counties, in 15 school districts, 31 schools and 80 classrooms participated in hands-on activities and online tutorials featuring Minecraft™, DISNEY FROZEN and Star Wars™.

A coding party

In addition to the classroom lessons, WMTT hosted the inaugural Hour of Code Party at Discovery Elementary in Kentwood on Friday, December 13. Nearly 400 third through fifth grade Kentwood Public School students arrived at Discovery, Chromebooks in hand, ready to learn.

Students were led through the Dance Party Hour of Code™ lesson that uses blockly coding to program animated animal characters to dance. Seventeen local professionals assisted students with the puzzles as they made cats, sharks, sloths and more dance to popular tunes like Lil Nas X’ Old Town Road and Imagine Dragons’ Thunder. Students who completed the lesson earned an online certificate of completion.

The goal for the party was two-fold: get kids excited about coding and practice for a future attempt to break a computer coding world record. The Guinness World Record for largest computer coding lesson boasts 724 participants and is held by Capital One. The record was set on October 31, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.

WMTT considered this year a practice run; they ran through the logistics of teaching coding to a large group of students, in one place and at one time, before they attempt to break the world record in 2020.

Hour of Code teaches students that anyone can code! If you are interested in learning to code, visit a service center to find out what training is available. You may even qualify for a training scholarship.