Computer science non-profit Code.org has announced a new project dubbed the Hour of Code, featuring backing from industry luminaries including Bill Gates and Jack Dorsey.
Hour of Code, part of Computer Science Education Week, provides free resources for teachers and boasts the backing of some big names in the industry.
Founded in order to push the teaching of computer science education, primarily in the US but with materials available internationally, Code.org aims to offer all students the ability to learn computer programming - and in particular to correct the gender and race imbalance that sees many high-tech companies dominated by white male staff. As part of Computer Science Education Week, which takes place each year around the birthday of computing pioneer and documenter of the first true computer 'bug' Admiral Grace Hopper, Code.org is set to launch all-new educational tutorials thanks to a raft of sponsors.
The Hour of Code tutorials are provided in collaboration with engineers from Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Facebook, and take the form of a game which aims to teach basic programming principles. Guest lectures from Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Reid Hoffman and Jack Dorsey - responsible for Microsoft, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter respectively - are also promised.
Cash from a large list of donors - including but not limited to corporate donations from Amazon, Microsoft, Google, JP Morgan Chase & Co, LinkedIn, SalesForce and Omidyar Network along with personal donations from Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, Reid Hoffman, Jack Dorsey, Drew Houston, Ron Conway and John Doerr - will be used to encourage schools throughout the US to run Hour of Code events. Those who take the organisation up on the challenge will receive prizes from 10GB of DropBox storage to full class-sets of computers, personal videoconferences with famous technologists, and student-level prizes such as Skype credit and gift cards.
'Thanks to the amazing support of new partners and donors, the Hour of Code campaign will launch our long-term mission to give every student the opportunity to learn computer science,
' claimed Hadi Partovi, co-founder and chief executive of Code.org. 'This isn’t just about the tremendous job opportunities in software – every 21st-century child can benefit from learning this foundational field.
While the prizes may be US-only, educators worldwide are being provided with access to the tutorials for Hour of Code for free on the Computer Science Education Week
website - including 'unplugged' tutorials for classrooms without computers.