Cincinnati students joined a massive learning event when they participated in the Hour of Code regional kickoff on Dec. 7. The event, held at Taft Information Technology High School, gave students the opportunity to both teach and learn more about the field of information technology (IT).
The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to expose students to the basics behind computer coding. Cincinnati’s event joined Taft and Hays Porter Elementary School for an evening where students showed others—including teachers, peers, parents, and other adults—what they have learned in their computer science classes and after-school Tech Club.
“There is a shortage of ethnic minorities in the IT field,” said Michael Turner, principal of Taft High School. “Our goal with this event was to increase IT presence in the West End.”
The nonprofit Code.org and over 100 others launched this global movement in 2013 to do just that—expand students’ knowledge of the world of IT. The Cincinnati event allowed students to join over 100 million others worldwide who have tried an Hour of Code.
The tech night at Taft brought together organizations, companies, teachers, and children from local schools and their parents, to make them aware of IT opportunities in the global world, and to promote IT education in the city. Speakers opened the evening with a declaration read by Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, a presentation of a cash gift by a Taft alumnus, and a speech by Dalric Webb of Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA).
Then students got to step into the shoes of a teacher for the evening. They took seats at laptops set up throughout the room and showed off their coding skills, teaching the learners fundamentals such as how to start building a website and what is involved in making a video game.
Alexis Cravens, a junior at Taft who is in her first year of the high school’s Tech Club, was one of those teachers. “We rely so much on technology,” she said. “It touches so much. There’s not a day I go home where I don’t learn something new in technology.”
Attendee Stephen Smith of Cincinnati Bell said he sees first-hand the importance of IT jobs to his company. “We have such a need for employees trained in this field,” he said. “There is a plethora of things they can be involved in related to technology. Unfortunately, thousands of jobs each year go unfilled in IT.”
Cincinnati Bell and University of Cincinnati’s School of Information Technology co-sponsored the event. It was also supported by Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and XOOPS Foundation.
Hour of Code has a direct tie-in to CPS’ My Tomorrow initiative, which focuses on preparing students for the career pathways of their choice by combining high expectations, technology, and mentoring.
While the students ultimately benefitted from the Hour of Code, the community also will gain from it, as emphasized by Michael Beck, Chair of the Education Committee for the West End Community Council. “We believe that a basic understanding of software engineering provides a set of fundamental skills that is vital, both to the child’s future and the future of Cincinnati’s economy,” he said. “By exposing kids early to coding, we can begin to build a pipeline of diverse IT students to strengthen Cincinnati’s economy and prepare our region for the jobs of tomorrow.”
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