From left, standing Dr. Kemi Jona, Northwestern University Professor of Learning Sciences and Computer Science and Director for the Office of STEM Education Partnerships; Dr. Paul Goren, District 65 Superintendent; and Dr. Jeff Brown, principal at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Literary & Fine Arts School, assist students in a variety of coding activities designed to spark an interest in computer science and foster creativity and problem-solving skills.Photo from School District 65

As part of a global effort to spark interest in computer programing, Northwestern University partnered with School District 65 elementary schools for the second annual “Hour of Code” initiative.

Billed as the “largest learning event in history,” this year’s goal was to reach 100 million children worldwide. On Dec. 12, approximately 2,000 District 65 students participated in one-hour coding activities, ranging from apps and games development to introductory lessons in JavaScript or other programming languages.
Northwestern graduate student volunteers from various departments, including chemistry, engineering and computer science, helped facilitate the activities by assisting teachers and working with students.

“Virtually every field these days involves computing, so introducing students to coding at a young age is a great way to get them excited about pursuing this skill both in and out of school,” said Dr. Kemi Jona, director of the Office of STEM Education Partnerships and professor of learning sciences and computer science at Northwestern.

The coding event was also supported by Professor Larry Birnbaum, head of Northwestern’s Computer Science program and by Professor Julio Ottino, dean of the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

“The coding activities engaged students through creativity and problem solving and will infuse the science and engineering practices that are a critical part of the Next Generation Science Standards, the new Illinois learning standards for science,” said District 65 STEM Director Jesch Reyes.