Friday, December 12, 2014

Hour of Code Ends via Chat with Polyvore CEO

Technology Applications students at T.A. Howard
video chatting with Polyvore CEO, Jess Lee.
It’s not every day that you get to talk to a major company’s CEO, but the technology applications (tech apps) students at T.A. Howard Middle School were able to as a prize given during the Hour of Code.

In celebration of Computer Science Education Week (December 8 - 14), the event is part of a nationwide movement to get schools to dedicate one hour of time for students to learn coding. During this hour, kids in participating schools learn how fun coding can be through interactive activities.

About two percent of college students graduate with a degree in computer science, and the numbers have dropped since the last decade. Yet, computing jobs make up 60 percent of all math and science-related jobs.

These startling statistics are what sparked T.A. Howard Middle School to take part in the event.

As an extra bonus, one out of 100 schools that participated in the Hour of Code won the opportunity to video chat with a celebrity or industry executive. Amy Toombs, T.A. Howard’s librarian, was selected to video chat with Jess Lee, CEO of the style website Polyvore.

“Jess Lee’s in-person speaking fee is $22,000, so getting to hear all her wealth of knowledge for free was exciting,” said Toombs. “I loved that she looked like a regular person and made big goals seem so attainable.”

T.A. Howard was one of seven schools allowed to ask one pre-approved question to Lee, so students in the tech apps classes brainstormed to come up with the perfect one. Eighth grader Hayden Hartrick was the lucky student who got to ask the question during the video chat.

The question: “To what do you attribute your success today? Was it a skill, a class, a mentor or life experience? All of the above?”

Eighth grader Hayden Hartrick asking Lee the
pre-approved question.
It was the only inquiry that prompted the style mogul to respond, “That is a good question!”

View full video chat here.

For Hartrick, the chat with Lee taught him to not back away from the hard things in life.

“If you see something that is difficult, you need to traverse that road and go for what you want,” he said.

Teachers and staff hope this event will encourage students to pursue a career in the computer science field.

“Coding is used for everything from gaming to everyday apps,” said Kristi Bell, instructional technology technician for Mansfield ISD. “These children are learning why coding is important and why they should learn it.”

Find out what you can do to foster the next generation of coders and programmers by visiting the Code.org website.