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Crash Course In Coding Aims To Get Girls Into Computer Science

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- In Minneapolis, more than 60 girls from Visitation High School spent the morning at a software company to learn coding.

Monday was "Hour of Code" day around the world, with the goal to expose more students to computer programming.

Using various touch-screen commands, the young ladies learned by doing. The girls from Visitation learned how to control a little robot on their computer screens, which made them think like computer programmers.

"We aren't actually using any sort of programming language, we're going through a tutorial called Lightbot," instructor Chris Jordan said. "It does a bunch of different logic-based puzzles, and introduces some of the main concepts of programming."

Jordan, a software engineer, is a role model for the girls who are interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) classes.

"Eighty percent of the top-paying jobs in the world today are in the STEM sciences, so it gives them a great opportunity to build a wonderful career," Calabrio CEO Tom Goodmanson said.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher, of the Minnesota High Tech Association, said girls who work in STEM fields have the opportunity to create their own companies.

"There's a real need for young women in the technology field, to go and create their own company and be entrepreneurs as well," she said.

It is estimated that there will be more than a million computing jobs by 2020, with only 400,000 computer science students to fill them.

Since computers control so many things in our lives, knowing how they work will help almost any career.

"I really want to be a doctor, and I think this is something that could really open up a lot of possibilities in the medical field," said Theadosia Cox, a Visitation student who took part on Monday's lesson.

More than 500 Minnesota schools will be hosting Hour of Code activities as part of Computer Science Education week.

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