The White House is urging students to learn some coding skills during Computer Science Education Week, starting Dec. 9.
The annual campaign encourages students to learn at least one hour of code through free online tutorials hosted by Code.org, Codecademy and MIT’s Scratch, among other pedagogical computer science websites.
“Learning these skills isn’t just important for your future, it’s important for our country’s future…Don’t just buy a new video game, make one,” President Barack Obama said to potential programmers in a YouTube video. “Don’t just download the latest app, help design it. Don’t just play on your phone, program it.”
The initiative is held in honor of Adm. Grace Hopper, who would have turned 107 on Dec. 9. Hopper was essential in developing the first computer languages that could be understood by everyday people. Instead of writing code through numbers, Hopper’s languages used words to logically tell a computer what to do.
Almost 1.75 million people have learned an hour of code to date, according to the Computer Science Education Week, totaling nearly 50 million lines of code. So far, 6.6 million students across 167 countries are planning on participating this year.
Computer Science Education Week has enlisted a slew of celebrities to spread the word. A YouTube video posted by the program shows Ashton Kutcher, Shakira and others learning code on the website.
The United States is slightly behind some other developed nations when it comes to accepting computer science into public curriculum. At the end of 2012, only nine states allowed computer science courses to fulfill a math or science requirement. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom and China have permanently added computer science to students’ curriculum.