Hour of Code kicks off in Romania, teaching pupils that computer science is both creative and fun

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Hour of Code global event, attended by hundreds of millions of people in over 180 countries, have made a stop in Romania as well.

Over 500,000 people in Romania has joined the event so far this year within 1,500 events, and over 850,000 last year. More than 3,338 Hour of Code events took place in our country in 2017. Registrations are still on, with events to be held until December 15.

Hour of Code is a one-hour elementary course of computer science, with pupils and students as beneficiaries, also marking the Computer Science Education Week, running December 3-9.

by Romania Journal

ADFABER , a Romanian NGO promoting the development of communities and social change through technology, has organized the series of events, which kicked off in Romania with a workshop hosted by ImpactHub on Monday, with 20  pupils invited to code.

Tens of other schools, even from some distant rural areas of the country, have joined the Hour of Code event, meant to prove children that, despite their young age, they can do a lot of stuff by themselves with the help of the technology.

Computer science is both creative and fun, and the future cannot be written without knowing the necessary language, meaning the one of technology. Cosmologist Stephen Hawking said that, either you want to discover the secrets of universe or you can have a career in the 21st century, the bases of coding are essential for anyone. Hour of Code is the perfect place to discover that,” said  Alin Chiriac, CEO & Founder ADFABER.

Mike Ellison, Country Manager, Raytheon Romania national partner of the Hour of Code in Romania, Ligia Deca, state adviser on education and research at the Romanian Presidency, Darren Horowitz, political officer US Embassy, and Romanian R&D engineer and inventor Cornel Amariei, have been the Hour of Code’s guests on Monday.

Mike Ellison said that Hour of Code event that is not just helping children and youngsters be exposed to basic principles of coding, but also acquire life and communication skills, brainstorming, creative thinking and protocol.

Learning to code is like learning a new language and I am familiar to that, as, after my family and I moved to Romania, we tried to learn Romanian language, and the goal was not just to have a few words and phrases, but to be able to have a conversation, to talk to people locally.

The same is true for coding. Whatever application you have based on coding will build a way to the future, and the hour of code have the possibility of creating new technologies that may change our world forever”, the Raytheon manager said.

In her turn, presidential aide Ligia Deca, stated that any long-term strategy, be it for personal careers or for the national educational systems, needs to take into account what will happen in the future. „And if we look into the future, we are being told that we’ll have many jobs disappearing , namely the ones who are doing repetitive actions, which can be replaced by robots or other electronic devices.

How can the humans’ work can still be valuable? If we are creative, communicative, if we do things better than machines can, and how do we do this? By learning how to programme,” the presidential adviser told the children gathered for the Hour of Code.

She pointed out that coding is not just for IT people, but also for the others.

Don’t imagine that if you like coding now, you will necessarily be a computer scientist later on. You could be, but you could become anything else you dream of and you will still be a better person, a better  professional because you understand the way digital world works”.

Ligia Deca added that the President has launched the project „Educated Romania” that aims at preparing kids all over Romania for the future, „but not by pushing them to learn a lot of knowledge in their schoolbook, but by teaching them how you can be active citizens.”

It’s never late to learn coding, if you think your passionate about it, if it is fun, you could introduce that to your parents as well, because in the future we will need new skills and for that we have to be open to new knowledge. If you make your parents understand your passion for coding perhaps we will be faster closer to that future. Have a great Hour of Code!”, the presidential adviser concluded.

Darren Horowitz, representing the U.S. Embassy, hailed the event, saying it had made his day better.

„Do you guys know what a diplomat is? I work at the US embassy and this is a bright spot in my day, in my  week, because  as a diplomat I have to do a lot of boring stuff, but this event is fun. I want to thank you that you are a bright spot in my often grey and boring work”, the representative of the American embassy said, as a spirit of joke.

He recalled his childhood back in the 80s, when he had his first computer and played video games. „I played some video games, but what really sparked my imagination was when I learnt to programme my computer, and it opened up a whole new world for me. Today, kids do more than just consume and can actually control the computer and make the computer do what they want it to do. And that’s what you are learning right now and that is enormous power,” Horrowitz argued, adding that he, as a diplomat, is coding his computer to make his work better and easier very day.

The US Embassy and ambassador Klemm are highly supportive of this kind of efforts, that are addressing the root of society, the base of making Romanian society better. Techonology is already what Romania is strong at, the embassy wants to continue to be part of the going forward with the Hour of Code,” he concluded.

25-year-old Bucharest based Cornel Amariei, one of the ten finalists of the international contest Ten Outstanding Young Persons 2018 and included by Forbes among the ten influential youngsters under 30 in Europe, is a R&D Engineer and inventor, dubbed as a prodigy child and a pioneer of innovation, also founder of Lumen, a device that with its 3D sensors allows the blind to navigate on their own.

Cornel has lobbied for coding, saying that „if 20 years ago, it was cool to play the guitar, to be a musician, now programmers are the rock stars”, but also advised children to also follow their artistic passions, for they might help them on their way to innovate.

He told participants that incredible things can be born out of innovation, such as the self-driving cars or flying taxis, that will be possible in a few years, or landing on Mars, and that all these groundbreaking things are based on coding and software.

Born to wheel-chaired parents, Cornel learnt to be very curious from an early age and he designed his first robot when he was 14, whose goal was to search through the rubble caused by earthquakes.

The best ideas are very basic, simple ideas. For instance, when I was in the tenth grade for instance, I was on the verge of failing my Chemistry exam, and our teacher came to me and to another colleagues in the same situation, telling us: either you do something using what you know best, or you fail. So, we made an application for iPhones for pupils on how to learn Chemistry. We put it on the App Store and we ended up with 300,000 downloads from over 100 countries in the world. So, we managed to get rid of the Chemistry issue, but we also got to the world finals of a business competition representing Romania with a computer science project,” Amariei recounted, adding that any idea, any innovation project also needs commitment, time, values and sacrifice, as well.

He also talked about his Lumen eyeglasses for visually impaired, saying they produced miracles, as blind people managed to actually imagine how a room looks like and even to catch a ball in the beach for the first time in their life.

The idea is to find a problem, to want to solve it for us or for others, and if we are good at this and we succeed, we might also make some money out of it,” said Cornel, who also recommended children to have new hobbies, to play instruments, to take photos, to love doing more things, for “creative ideas come from seeing many beautiful things all around us”.

I am mad about singing, taking photos, traveling and these hobbies help me a lot when I have to solve a problem or create something, for they make me think not only as a computer scientist and engineer, but also to see things from an artistic perspective. Performance is not possible without some values, without ambition and determination to get things done and without sacrifices. Anyone can create, can innovate, can come up with new ideas, like a beggar whom I met in Shenzhen, who would not accept money but anything that could be paid in QR code”, he concluded.

Kids being rewarded after one hour of code

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