Hour of Code: Start Learning Now

Hour of Code

In celebration of Computer Science Education Week (December 8-14, 2014), Code.org is sponsoring and promoting a worldwide Hour of Code. (Hour of Code is organized by Code.org, a public 501c3 non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color.)

Hour of Code

Hour of Code

In the first year of Hour of Code, over 52 million students completed an introduction to programming! US President Barack Obama recently joined the Hour of Code and wrote his first lines of JavaScript. Hour of Code events are planned all over the world, and this year’s goal is to have 100 million participants.

Where to Sign Up

To try your first Hour of Code, visit http://code.org/learn to choose a fun game-based tutorial (featuring Angry Birds and Disney’s Frozen), or find a tutorial app to download. There’s even a way to learn code on paper if you’re unplugged.

Want more choices? take a look at https://www.khanacademy.org/hourofcode for an introduction to drawing with JavaScript, HTML/CSS for web pages, or SQL databases. The tutorials are easy to follow, and free of charge!

Feeling especially motivated to help? Organize a local Hour of Code event or camp. Sign up and start planning here.

Continue with Free Coding Lessons

Of course, the whole idea behind Hour of Code is to cultivate desire and enthusiasm for learning programming. So if you love your first hour, there are plenty of next-step code lessons available at Khan Academy, and they’re all free.

Geeky Gift Ideas

You may be shopping for some special nerds this Christmas, and it can be hard to find a great gift that suits those geeky preferences. I have a couple of ideas that might be useful for you.

Recently, I had the opportunity to review a couple of products from Uncommon Goods, and learn about the company and its philosophy. Uncommon Goods has an interesting selection of crafty products that appeal to a wide variety of interests. And if you like the idea of supporting US artisans, being good to the environment and animal-friendly, you’ll feel good about shopping Uncommon Goods. Half of their products are handmade and 30% include recycled or upcycled materials.

Periodic Table Building Blocks

Periodic Table Building Blocks

And besides all of that feel-good and politically-correct stuff, these gifts are just plain cool! See all kinds of Christmas gifts here.

For the mini-geek in your life, check out these lovely periodic table building blocks. My daughter is nine years old, and she broke these open and starting sorting them by color, and then built them into pyramids and towers. The blocks are well-made, and the faces are lovely and smooth. The 118 elements of the Periodic Table are represented on the blocks, and their names and atomic weights are printed in non-toxic inks.

For more geeky gifts, visit this page: http://www.uncommongoods.com/fun/by-interest/geek-gifts

Wooden Arithmetic Puzzle

Wooden Arithmetic Puzzle

For a more mathematically-advanced recipient, take a look at Aristotle’s Number Puzzle. It’s kind of like a sudoku puzzle, where you arrange the numbers so they add up to the same sum in every row. It’s a challenging brainteaser, and it looks pretty on a table. I love that kids and grandparents can work on this together without batteries or screens. Math is fun!

If you’re interested in more unique gifts, browse some more great ideas here: http://www.uncommongoods.com/occasions/christmas-gifts/stocking-stuffers

Have fun checking out these products, and if you have other suggestions for geeky gift ideas, please let me know! I’m always interested in new toys and games that make learning fun for everyone!