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Is it possible to change kids’ entire lives with one free hour of code?

Trust us, there are no barriers to becoming a fully fledged coder.

Coding is being introduced into the Aussie curriculum soon, which means that kids (and teachers) will need to jump on board to learn the necessary skills. With recent research highlighting a decline in Australian STEM results, it’s high time for us to get coding.

That’s why Apple’s annual Hour of Code program has been expanded at just the right time.

If you’ve never heard of Hour of Code, buckle up. In every single Apple store across the world – that’s 487 Apple retail stores – hour-long workshops will be run between 5-11 December. You can learn basic skills, like how to use Siri, or more advanced mixing and editing skills.

Speaking about the potential of the Hour of Code workshops, Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president of Retail explained,

“Hour of Code embodies our vision for Apple stores as a place for the community to gather, learn and be entertained…We’re proud to introduce the Swift Playgrounds app into the workshops and honoured to again work side-by-side with Code.org on this incredibly important initiative. Hour of Code is one of the absolute highlights of the year for both our teams and the families that visit our stores.”

One of the most exciting programs being propped up by Hour of Code this year is Swift Playgrounds, an iPad app which breaks down the complex language and nuance of coding, and presents it as a game for kids.

Rather than learning in lines and lines of code, kids learn to enter commands, which encourage them to think logically and creatively.

Techly spoke to Kaylene Costello-Duffin, the Middle Leader at St Michael’s Thirroul, who had never coded before using Swift Playgrounds. Since seeing the positive response it has inspired in her classroom, she’s established an ever-growing Code Club, where kids can really flex their coding muscles.

Kaylene explained that many of her students had used apps or games which introduced coding as a concept, but didn’t foster a deeper understanding of code, “[The children] say ‘I code all the time’ but now that we’re introducing Swift Playgrounds to them, they’re starting to understand the deeper understanding of coding concepts. They’re actually understanding what coding is and how it’s relevant.

It’s wonderful for me to see them challenged. Learning to code like this empowers all kids to achieve something that they haven’t been able to achieve before.”

Code.org graph about computer science graduates' earnings

Drawing on Apple’s intention to foster community within its stores, Kaylene reflected on the social connections which had been inspired by gamified coding, “I’ve noticed the collaboration between students, which has been really amazing to watch. Some students who aren’t the most academically advanced students [are thriving].

One little boy in particular has blown me away with his knowledge and ability to help others solve these problems by using the coding language. It’s making him the literate one, where normally he isn’t literate.”

Hour of Code is a partnership between Apple and Code.org, who envision a future where every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science, just like biology, chemistry or algebra.

Code.org presentation - coding incl. in education

Code.org’s founder and CEO, Hadi Partovi spoke of the 310,992,532 served by the Hour of Code initiative, “Since we started Hour of Code in 2013, Apple has each year upped its participation and found ways to introduce more kids to computer science. The global footprint Apple offers through its stores and talented staff has reached tens of thousands of kids, and with the introduction of Hour of Code in Swift Playgrounds we can introduce coding to even more.”

Kaylene summarised the program, and its impacts: “The Australian curriculum asks for collaboration, problem solving, creative and critical thinking. We aspire to promote lifelong learning. Coding is no exception.”

Find your local store to register yourself for the Hour of Code. You never know which skills you’ll pick up!

About the author

Larissa is Techly’s Assistant Editor. She watches so much Youtube that she’s narrowed down her favourite categories – goats, innocent dads getting pranked, and toddlers falling over.

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