“Have you seen a function before?” Katy Kahla asked, squatting down next to a second-grader in a star-patterned sweatshirt.
Kahla, who works for Intuit, helped the little girl piece together code that moved a Minecraft character through a maze-like game.
“Alright!” Kahla said, as the little girl’s character completed the level.
Students at Boise’s Garfield Elementary participated in an annual Hour of Code event, Tuesday, to celebrate national Computer Science Education Week. Employees from Micron, Intuit and other computer companies helped students as young as four and five with coding projects, and one fifth grade class got a special visit from Idaho Gov. Brad Little.
Little, in a Stetson hat with the letters C-O-D-E on the front, read a proclamation designating Dec. 9-13 “Computer Science Education Week” in Idaho, then sat down to try his hand at coding a fifth-grade-level basketball game.
“How often do you change your password,” Little joked with the fifth grader next to him, swapping his Stetson for a pair of glasses.
The Idaho STEM Action Center, an organization that works to inspire Idahoans to fill the state’s under-staffed STEM job market, estimates more than half of all future STEM jobs will be in computer science. Computer science is one of the most in-demand college degrees, the organization said in a news release, and computer-science jobs are the number-one source of all new wages in the U.S.
Kahla, who has helped students with Hour of Code for four years, says she wasn’t exposed to coding until college, when a friend turned her on to Neopets.
She volunteers to help kids learn about coding at a young age, regardless of what career path they will eventually pursue.
“I love doing this with kids because the opportunities are limitless,” she said.
“I wish something like this had existed when I was in school.”