Support Computer Science Education week with an “Hour of Code”

Computer Science Education Week is December 7th through 13th, so make time to get in on the coding action!

According to, nine out of ten parents want their children to learn computer science, but only one in four schools in the United States teach it. Meanwhile, 67 percent of new STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) jobs are in computing, but only eight percent of STEM graduates have computer science degrees.

Now let me throw some Virginia-specific stats at you (also courtesy of…

  • Virginia currently has 33,863 open computing jobs.
  • The average salary for a computing occupation in Virginia is $98,369; the average salary in the state is $50,750.
  • Virginia had only 1,292 computer science graduates in 2013; only 17% were female.
  • Only 2,377 high school students in Virginia took the AP Computer Science exam in 2015; only 23% were female; only 153 were Hispanic; only 124 were black.
  • Only 94 schools in Virginia (25% of Virginia schools with AP programs) offered the AP Computer Science course in 2013-2014. There are fewer AP exams taken in computer science than in any other STEM subject area.

Come on, Virginia parents, we can do better than that! Now you’re probably asking, “But how, Valerie, how?” I’ve got two suggestions for you…

  1. Get the computer science education conversation going1 in your local school district. Ask for computer science offerings to be expanded to all grade levels.
  2. Raise awareness–specifically by taking part in an Hour of Code during Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek).

CSEdWeek (taking place Monday, December 7th through Sunday, December 13th this year) first began in 2009 as “a call to action to raise awareness about the need to elevate computer science education at all levels and to underscore the critical role of computing in all careers.” While efforts that first year targeted policy issues and policy makers, the focus has shifted over the last few years to the real stakeholders when it comes to improving computer science education: K-12 teachers and administrators, parents, and the kids themselves. Hour of Code became the central theme CSEdWeek in 2013, reaching over 15 million students and over 35,000 events across 167 countries. One million hours were logged during the 2014 effort, making the Hour of Code and Computer Science Education Week the largest education campaign in history.

An Hour of Code is probably exactly what you think it is. Participants are asked to devote one hour (or more, if you like) during CSEdWeek to coding–learning it, teaching it, and exploring how these skills strengthen our kids’ problem-solving and creative skills and offer them a better foundation for professional success in the 21st century.

CodeVA2 will help kick off Virginia’s Hour of Code on Monday at the Science Museum of Virginia. From 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM, all are welcome to come by and take part in coding activities. Or if you and yours are more interested in coding in the comfort of your own home, head over to the CSEdWeek website for tutorials on coding for phones and tablets; programming games for kids as young as five; and even tips on how to practice computer science “unplugged.” You’ll also find coding activities built around pop culture favorites like Star Wars, Frozen, Minecraft, Angry Birds, Flappy Bird, and more. And all you educators out there fighting the good computer science education fight: they’ve got teacher resources and notes galore.

However you end up getting your hour in, when you’re finished, make sure to add your name to the list of (as of this writing) more than 1.9 million others on’s petition to give every student in every school the opportunity to learn computer science.

  1. Or jump in on one that might already be happening–Chesterfield, Henrico, Hanover, and Richmond City schools have already partnered with to enhance computer science education in the past. 
  2. CodeVA will also host Jedi Prom from 7:00 to 10:00 PM (also at the Science Museum) featuring a live performance from Goldrush. Kids are welcome! Tickets are $25 in advance and $35 at the door ($10 for ages 21 and under). Proceeds will go towards CodeVA’s mission to promote computer science and computer programming all across Virginia. 
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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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