The New Superpower: the Power of Code

By: Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator

STEM Club Program Highlight Video, by Meghan Thoreau, produced in iMovies.

Q: How many computer science jobs will there be in 2020?

A: In 2020, an estimated 1 million computer programming-related jobs in the US are expected to be unfilled. Many tech organizations are now turning to non-traditional applicants and internal training to fill these gaps. Learn more: Full Scale.

Here are some quick facts according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for computer and information research scientists:

Quick Facts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019.

This November, Teays Valley Elementary Students learned about a new “superpower” that isn’t being taught in 90% of US schools – the power of CODE. Students watched a short video starring Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, will.i.am, Chris Bosh, Jack Dorsey, Tony Hsieh, Drew Houston, Gabe Newell, Ruchi Sanghvi, Elena Silenok, Vanessa Hurst, and Hadi Partovi. Directed by Lesley Chilcott, executive producers Hadi and Ali Partovi, break down stereotypes about what it means to learn to code, how in-demand the skill set is, how coding impacts humanity, and especially how fun, interactive, and full-service some larger companies design their office space to attract and keep their talent pool.

Image from the program presentation by Meghan Thoreau, go.osu.edu/CODE_offline_scratch.

CHALLENGE 1: The kids started with the basics, binary code, which is a coding system using two digits (or bits) ‘0’ and ‘1’ to represent a letter, digit, or other characters in a computer or other electronic device. For example, the lower case ‘a’ in binary code is the string of 8-bits, ‘0110 0001,’ called a byte. Computers process instructions using this two-symbol system. The students made binary bracelets to practice decoding a letter into binary code.

Pictures from STEM Club Program, by Meghan Thoreau. 

CHALLENGE 2: To code or to write a program, is to write a set of instructions to a problem, or an algorithm. An algorithm is a process or set of rules to be followed in calculating or running a problem-solving operation by a computer. Below is a simple algorithm to make a PB&J:

Image from the program presentation by Meghan Thoreau, go.osu.edu/CODE_offline_scratch.

A good coder is a person who can think strategically through a problem and then write a clear set of instructions to end at a solution. Some instructions are easier to follow than others. Some instructions get to the solution more directly. The kids experience the skill in writing instructions, writing an algorithm, using a tangram challenge. A pair of students worked together verbally telling another pair of students how to arrange a series of shapes to end with a hidden image as the solution.

Pictures from STEM Club Program, by Meghan Thoreau. 

CHALLENGE 3: students went online, https://world.kano.me/challenges, and chose their own themed coding challenge to actually write a program and see what that looks like in JavaScript, a popular computer programming language.

Pictures from STEM Club Program, by Meghan Thoreau. 

NEXT MONTH: students will continue with the coding challenges on Kano Computer Kits. Computers that kids can build and start to learn to code through interactive tutorial options to code art, music, games, browse the internet, watch YouTube, access Google docs, write stories, and upload more than 100+ Apps. The computer plugs into an HDMI screen. The product is ideals of kids 6+ in age. Read an earlier blog by Educator, STEM Parenthood: every childhood needs a little coding. The students will also be developing their own public service announcements in a coded animation in Scratch!

Pictures from STEM Club Program, by Meghan Thoreau. 

Bureau of Labor Statistics computer science career video by CareerOneStop: https://youtu.be/jlZucw7_qWU