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'Hour of Code': Inspiring Tech Careers at Acceleration Academies

December 12, 2023 | Jeffrey Good

'Hour of Code': Inspiring Tech Careers at Acceleration Academies image

To celebrate National Computer Science Week, graduation candidates at Acceleration Academies across the nation spent a day exploring skills that could change the course of their lives. 

The “Hour of Code” workshops introduced young learners to how writing and managing computer code can enable them to build video games, create websites and apps, strengthen cybersecurity — and begin careers with healthy opportunities and salaries. 

“The Hour of Code event gives graduation candidates the opportunity to engage their imagination and use applied learning to solve problems and make cool things happen,” says Monique Anair, the career and technical education consultant who organized the workshops.

Three students work at computers.

At Escambia County Acceleration Academies (ECAA) in Pensacola, Florida, 18-year-old Josiah Madden joined his classmates in learning about cybersecurity, app development, website design and managing the digital footprint we all leave as we shop, socialize and learn on the web. 

“I’ve always been interested in coding. I’d like to major in computer science when I go to college,” says Josiah, who was able to, among other things, create a game and code the background of a website. “There are a lot of job opportunities.” 

Student shows his work on computer screen.ECAA Director Mat Taylor said Hour of Code provided an opportunity for graduation candidates to see how the academic skills they are gaining can translate into growth before and beyond graduation. 

“I truly believe it is important to expose ourselves to new things when given the opportunity,” says Taylor. “For our GCs, even if they think they know what they want to do after earning a diploma, it is imperative we try to provide experiences to show them opportunities in the workforce here in our area.”

A military hub, Pensacola has two institutions of higher education — the University of West Florida and Pensacola State College — that offer strong programs in cybersecurity. As hacking and identity theft become more common, the demand for cybersecurity experts in military, law enforcement and private business applications will only grow. 

Students complete coding exercises on computers.“Coding, it’s not even the future, it’s the here and now,” says Jo Dawn Brown, who opened a business called Code Ninjas with her husband, a U.S. Air Force electronics warfare officer. Taylor invited her and her digital “senseis” to lead the Hour of Code event. 

“We really just wanted to impact the kids and get them a little more prepared for their future and give them options that they might not have known about,” says Brown. 

Hour of Code activities unfolded at 10 Acceleration Academies across the nation, including a computer coding dance party at Carolina Shores, career logic models in Bethel, coding a self-portrait in Gwinnett, creating a cartoon in Ector, making Google logos in Clark, diving into an app lab in St. Lucie and Lee, coding a brand in Sarasota and the emerging world of IT security in Wichita. 

 “Hour of Code is a quick and intense adventure into the world of computer programming,” says Anair. “You get the chance to become a digital architect and create your own virtual worlds.”

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