MANHATTAN — New York City is hoping to shape the next generation of computer scientists and expert coders — before they graduate from high school.
About 120 public high school teachers will participate in a new $1 million teacher training program aimed at creating tech-savvy kids, the Department of Education announced Monday. The three-year program, set to start with 60 teachers in the fall of 2014, will be funded through a mix of public and private funds, DOE officials said.
Nearly 30 high schools across the city already have computer science courses. Plans are underway to expand the teacher training to middle and elementary schools after the program begins.
“Computer science offers students a pathway to some of the best jobs in the country,” said Hadi Partovi, founder of Code.org, a nonprofit focused on computer science education and one of the partners on this program. “This is not only a course you study to get a job as an engineer — it’s a fundamental course for our future nurses, doctors, lawyers, and even future presidents.”
Code.org organized an international program called “Hour of Code,” where teachers from more than 150 countries gave an introductory lesson on the fundamentals of programming to raise awareness of the importance of coding in the 21st century.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott made Monday’s announcement while attending the hourlong class being taught at the American Sign Language and English Secondary School in Gramercy. The school received $10,000 from Code.org for participating, which it is using to purchase new computers.
“With innovative programs and partnerships, we are continuing to transform our schools and focus on preparing students for college and careers,” Walcott said in a statement.
Some city parents have already been encouraging their kids to bone up on coding: The demand for computer science tutors doubled each of the past two years, according to New York magazine. Public schools have made inroads in coding over the past few years, DOE officials said. The Academy for Software Engineering, also in Gramercy, opened in 2012, attracting more than 1,450 applicants for about 108 ninth-grade seats.
In September, the DOE opened a second such school, the Bronx Academy for Software Engineering, and also launched a Software Engineering Pilot program for 1,500 students to receive comprehensive computer science and software engineering classes, resources and support, school officials said.
The city’s Economic Development Corporation, which is also working on the teacher training program, has hosted the past two years' “NYC Generation Tech” to give kids exposure to New York’s emerging technology center, while they learn the tools to design software and build mobile apps.