SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert proved to some Davis County kids that you are never too old to learn.
On Monday, Herbert spent an hour with students from Eagle Bay Elementary and Central Davis Junior High, coding a computer game.
The second week in December has been declared by Herbert as computer science education week in Utah, following in the footsteps of the global “Hour of Code” push to have millions of students try their hands at programming.
Aaron Skonnard, CEO of Pluralsight, which provides online training for professionals and hosted the event, told the 15 students sitting around the table with their laptops at the ready that they are the teachers.
“The adults in this room are all immigrants to technology, trying to figure it out, but you are natives,” he said. “You get it. It is part of your DNA, so don’t let us stand in front of your progress.”
True to Skonnard’s words, the students delved right into programming a computer game, telling the computer how to move the characters through the game while collecting gems and avoiding obstacles — while Herbert needed assistance.
The Hour of Code project is expected to involve 50 million students internationally. Herbert encouraged all Utah schools to get involved with the project, meant as a one-hour introduction to computer science showing that anybody can learn the basics. The Hour of Code is organized by Code.org, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding participation in computer science. To participate, visit Code.org for the hourlong tutorial and game programming opportunities.
“The outlook for computer science jobs is bright, as these high-paying jobs currently exceed the supply of students three to one,” Herbert said.
Prior to the programming, Herbert announced that beginning the next school year, computer science courses will count as a core science credit.
“This opportunity exposes them to the rich opportunities with critical thinking skills that will help them the rest of their lives,” the governor said.
Central Davis teacher Jesse Yoshimura was excited to hear news about computer science being added as core curriculum.
“I don’t want to take away from the science program, but computer science is getting as big as other classes,” she said.
Central Davis seventh-grader Kathryn Chipman breezed through the programming event, saying she has learned how to code at home.
“I like coding because it gives me a chance to be creative and lets me use the computer without my mom yelling at me,” Chipman said. She is thinking she might pursue a career in computer science.
CEO of Utah Technical Council Richard Nelson told the students the state can’t find enough talent to fill computer science jobs.
“We need you and it starts right here. We need you to learn how to code, take extra science classes and math,” he said. “ We are excited the state Board of Education is moving forward by allowing computer science to count for a science credit.”