Coding is becoming an increasingly crucial skill, and with Computer Science Education Week kicking off today, millions of students from around the world are being encouraged to take some time to learn how to code.
Thanks to the Hour of Code campaign from nonprofit Code.org, popular movie characters like Elsa from "Frozen" and Princess Leia from "Star Wars" are also joining in.
From Dec. 7 through 13, educators, extracurricular leaders, and parents alike are being encouraged to introduce kids to free, online Hour of Code tutorials. Designed for all ages, some tutorials are designed to be suitable for kids as young as 4.
The tutorials are designed as games that are accessible for computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
Now in its third year, Code.org announced partnerships with companies like Microsoft and Disney to create tutorials using settings and characters from "Minecraft," "Star Wars," and "Frozen" to make coding more appealing to children.
"The goal of the Hour of Code is not to teach anybody to become an expert computer scientist in one hour," reads the description on Hour of Code's homepage. "One hour is only enough to learn that computer science is fun and creative, that it is accessible for all ages, for all students, regardless of background."
Why is it important? According to Code.org, only 27 states currently enable students to count computer science courses toward their high school graduation credits. That limited support for computer science in the classroom neglects a growing need in the job market for people with coding skills. There are currently 604,689 available jobs in computer science nationwide, according to statistics from Code.org, while in 2014, there were only 38,175 recent computer science graduates in the workforce to answer this demand.
Another big goal of the initiative has been to encourage more young women to pursue computer science. Only about 23 percent of jobs in computing are held by women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Similarly, the National Center for Women & Information Technology reports that a mere 18 percent of bachelor's degrees in computer science are awarded to women. By featuring characters in the tutorials that appeal to girls as well as boys, Code.org is hoping to encourage more girls to get excited about coding.