Make a Difference: Coding and Computing Skills Should Start Early!

Did you know learning even the basics of coding will help students in virtually any career—from architecture to zoology? Just as we teach students how to dissect a frog, or how electricity works, it’s important for every 21st century student to have a chance to design an app or an algorithm, or learn how the Internet works.

But the need to start early goes deeper than that. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections (, The projection for new computing jobs is 548,200 from 2014-2024. Specifically, in Virginia the opportunity for our young people is incredible: Virginia currently has 34,469 open computing jobs (4.3 times the average demand rate in Virginia). Virginia had only 1,419 computer science graduates in 2014; only 19% were female. Meanwhile, a wide range of industries require coding, from the high-tech professionals who create coding to the coders who increase productivity day-to- day in so many operations, are faced with the challenge of hiring these technically savvy skilled professionals.


The medical industry is a good example. New standards known as the ICD-10 implemented in October 2015, aimed to provide more details on the diagnoses, treatments and outcomes a coder records from a doctor's notes, procedure recommendations and patients lab results. It didn’t take long to realize medical practices and facilities had a major shortage of coders to implement the new standards. ICD-10 uses more than 140,000 codes, including a new designation for the Ebola virus, compared to the just over 17,000 codes employed by the current standard ICD-9. Becoming an accredited coder requires anywhere from 700 to 1,000 hours of coursework in fields of study including physiology, anatomy and pharmacology. Hiring started including bonuses above the $30,000 to $60,000 salaries, not even considering higher pay for managers and auditors. This is just one example of how important coding will be in future technologies.

For STARBASE, creating PPSCoders as summer camps and continuing to expand these camps was based directly on our program outcomes which prove that when you start engaging students at an early age, they begin to see themselves in careers which they (and their families) would have never dreamed of for them! These summer camps were implemented after the first year STARBASE became a participant in Hour of Code, a national nonprofit expanding access to computer science. Their K-12 program consists of an innovative approach to professional development, curriculum, and promotional materials. You can learn more at


The Hour of Code takes place each year during Computer Science Education Week The 2016 Computer Science Education Week will be December 5-11, but you can host an Hour of Code all year round. Computer Science Education Week is held annually in recognition of the birthday of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper.

STARBASE has made this an annual aspect of the program’s curriculum because the students love it! Hour of Code at STARBASE this year will be December 7 through 9 or possibly through the 12 th . This year’s program will involve 4 th graders from Douglass Park and Lakeview; 5 th graders from Simonsdale and James Hurst, and 6 th graders from Douglass Park and Park View. Visit our Facebook for photos during the week!