AAPS and local tech companies partner to introduce kids to computer science through "Hour of Code"

Next week Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) students will join countless others across the world in the Hour of Code, an event that aims to demystify computer science for kids.


From Dec. 9-13, Hour of Code at AAPS will give students the opportunity to take part in various coding activities and interact with successful industry insiders. Some will also receive certificates of completion at the end.


The Hour of Code is a 60-minute introduction to coding basics. Spearheaded by Code.org and Computer Science Education Week, the initiative's goal is to show that anyone can learn computer programming and inspire interest in computer science.


While anyone can participate in Hour of Code at any time, a consolidated global campaign takes place during Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 9-15).


When the yearly program started in 2013, four AAPS schools got on board.


"Since then, participation has just been growing and growing," says Andrew Cluley, AAPS communications director. "This year, we have 27 of our 32 schools taking part with volunteers coming into classrooms, and the rest of the schools may be organizing their own events."


The volunteers he references are called "Tech-a-Teers." A number of them are from local tech companies. Cluley says learning from adults in the technology field may be the biggest benefit students get out of next week's activities. It may be especially impactful for students of color and girls, who are underrepresented in the sector.


"Just having a positive experience with someone who looks like them, and who has a successful career in the industry, can make a difference in closing the divide," Cluley says.


He describes the overall enthusiasm from schools and this year's support from local tech companies as "an amazing synergy."


"It's awesome that companies are letting their workers volunteer and invest in our students and the community. They are essentially inspiring kids who may be their co-workers somewhere down the line," Cluley says.


Jaishree Drepaul-Bruder is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at jaishreeedit@gmail.com.


Photos courtesy of AAPS.