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BISMARCK, N.D. - A statewide Hour of Code will take place Dec. 5-9 as part of a nationwide, annual event hosted by Code.org. Held in conjunction with Computer Science Education Week, the event is part of a broader effort to give students of all ages opportunities to learn about coding and computer science as foundational 21st century skills.  

“Computer science drives innovation, and Hour of Code is a fun way to demystify what coding is and show that anyone can learn these skills,” said Governor Doug Burgum. “We’re grateful for the dedicated teachers, administrators and volunteers working to ensure that students learn the digital skills they need to succeed in whatever career path they may choose.” 

According to the National Math and Science Initiative, the U.S. will need to fill 3.5 million STEM jobs by 2025 yet two million jobs are currently unfulfilled because of unqualified candidates (NMS, 2022). By no stretch of reality, this number will continue to grow as we advance as a global society. In fact, many of the jobs our students will have do not currently exist. Still, North Dakota is in a unique position to lead the nation with college and career ready students by integrating STEM into education. 

“The Hour of Code helps inspire students’ imaginations and correlates to technology activities used in day-to-day life,” said Greg Hoffman, Interim Chief Information Officer for North Dakota Information Technology.  “This week is an ideal time for school and districts to put the spotlight on computer science programs and expand opportunities for students.” 

Last year, 43 events/schools from across the state participated in the Hour of Code. North Dakota is again anticipating significant statewide involvement, with 34 events/schools signed up so far. Schools are encouraged to register here.  

Lincoln Elementary recognized the need for STEM education in their school to create success for all students. Marisa Riesinger, DPS Elementary Library Media Specialist, stated, “Today, STEM skills are just as foundational as reading, writing, and math. Our students are our future, and they need to be prepared to be problem-solvers and solution-makers.” In August, Lincoln received North Dakota’s first Cal Ripken Foundation STEM Center. Every week, students in every grade level participate in STEM activities within their classrooms. Riesinger also noted the positive increases in student engagement, academic achievement, and personal empowerment.  

These successes prompted Lincoln to hold their first schoolwide STEM Day on December 9 to celebrate student learning and share the impact with community leaders. Administrator Tammy Peterson stated, “This is an amazing opportunity to deepen learning for all students by shifting toward higher level thinking, student agency, authentic work, and technology infusion.” Lincoln intends to continue encouraging STEM education through school, community, and family events such as Family Code Night. 

This effort is also part of a holistic, whole-of-government approach to promoting technology education in North Dakota, and specifically computer science and cybersecurity. This effort, known as the “PK-20W Initiative” “preschool through PhD and workforce, involves more than 40 public and private sector partners working to provide professional development, training opportunities and resources to North Dakota educators and students in computer science and cybersecurity. 

While numerous Hour of Code activities are planned for school districts across the state, EduTech, the educational technology arm of NDIT, will have representatives on site at: 

  • St. John’s Academy in Jamestown-Grades 1-8 with 160 students. 

  • Lincoln Elementary School in Dickinson- Grades K-5 with 400 students. 

  • Napoleon High School-Grades 1-8 with 160 students. 

They will be collaborating with educators as they facilitate coding activities from CYBER.org and code.org curriculums. They will be utilizing equipment including breadboards, microbits, spheros, drones, and virtual reality headsets. 

Governor Burgum has declared December 5-11, 2022, Computer Science Education Week in North Dakota. A digital copy of the proclamation is available to be viewed, shared and downloaded on the Governor’s Office website here: https://www.governor.nd.gov/proclamations. 

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