Monday, December 7, 2015

Benicia High School to participate in worldwide coding lessons

(Originally published in the 12/7/15 edition)

   Computers are ubiquitous in today’s society, but not everybody knows what goes into making them work. According to, a nonprofit organization that encourages more participation in computer science courses, there are approximately 400,000 students enrolled in computer science classes, but over 1.4 million computing jobs which make up $5 billion in wage opportunities. Computer programming jobs are steadily growing, but less than 2.4 percent of college students graduate with a computer science degree.
   Because of this gap, has devised a week for people to log in and learn about the basics of coding- the process used to design websites, software and cellphone applications- for an hour. Benicia High School will be one of the many participants worldwide.
   To coincide with Dec. 7 through 13 being Computer Science Education Week, will be hosting the Hour of Code, which will give participants a chance to learn how to code hands-on for free. Users can take part at any hour of the day during the week.
   The Hour of Code was started in 2013 and currently has more than 185,000 scheduled events worldwide. Over 100 businesses have come together to support the event, including Apple which hosted Hour of Code at all of its stores around the world. Even President Barack Obama participated from the White House last year.
   Annette Fewins, Benicia High’s career technology department head, said the school started taking part in Hour of Code two years ago.
   “We did it one year, and last year we tried more teachers doing it,” she said. “This year we’re going to try to expand it more because we’re starting to add a lot of technology classes into our curriculum.”
   On Wednesday, students will drop by the Active Learning Space during the lunch time hour to take part. The center has 20 Chromebooks,10 iPads and large-screen TVs which will project videos on the importance of coding.
   “We will also have some drones out in the quad and a robot in the ALS center,” Fewins said.
   The event is part of Benicia High’s continuing mission to offer more technology classes to students. The school currently offers courses in robotics and introductory computer science, and next year it will offer an Advanced Placement computer class and computer programming will be  included in the freshman technology course. 
   “The goal is to get students interested in technology, not just talking on their phones or playing an app but knowing how these things work,” Fewins said. “We’re just trying to open up a door for them.”

   The Hour of Code will take place during the lunch hour on Wednesday, Dec. 9 at Benicia High’s Active Learning Space. The event is open to any students who wish to drop by and participate. For more information or to participate from home, visit

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