December 5 kicks off another annual Computer Science Week and Hour of Code, and with it, nonprofit Code.org is bringing a few more celebrities into the coding fold. This time, it’s a collection of athletes that includes basketball’s Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors, tennis star Serena Williams, and soccer players Sergio Ramos and Marcelo Vieira of Real Madrid C.F.
Today, Code.org has released a new sports-themed coding tutorial and campaign that brings together the best of old-school Atari game Pong and the ability to customize according to a student’s favorite sport and team. According to Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi, while the tutorial takes only an hour, it’s intended to be “enough to discover the magic that computer science is,” as has been the case with all of Code.org’s previous Hour of Code campaigns.
This year, the choice to focus on sports and athletes was twofold. First, Partovi explains that while previous Code.org themes felt more geared towards elementary and middle school students (think Star Wars or Elsa-themed activities from Frozen), this year’s focus is around high school students. “If you look at who high school kids look up to, it’s athletes,” Partovi tells EdSurge.
But beyond that, the focus on athletes fell in line with Code.org desire to promote more diversity in the space of coding and computer science. “In every part of [coding] work, traditionally, it’s been an all white/Asian and male population. When we get actors involved at Code.org, most actors tend to be white—but athletes are extremely diverse,” Partovi explains. “Growing diversity is fundamentally core to our mission.”
According to Partovi, the magic of Hour of Code isn’t just what happens over the course of a week in December. Based on Code.org’s surveys of 200,000 Hour of Code organizers and teachers, 67 percent of teachers report deciding to teach computer science beyond that one hour, and 87 percent of teachers report that students—whether with or without teacher influence—code beyond that one hour.
And for those educators who want to move beyond Hour of Code but might not know where to start, Partovi recommends consulting the “Teach” button on the Code.org homepage, which leads users to a collection of K-12 curriculum for full computer science courses.