Despite being a cowboy, Idaho Lt. Gov. Scott Bedke regularly uses computer programming, he told a group of second graders Monday. Coding in Microsoft Excel calculates the value of his cattle long before they’re sold.
“Every job that you kids go into is going to have a programming or computer science component to it,” Bedke said. “So what you’re doing here is really going to make a difference down the road.”
The Republican former House Speaker visited Whittier Elementary in Boise as part of Hour of Code, an annual event meant to inspire students to learn computer programming.
Whittier second graders, kindergarteners and Bedke completed a basic computer programming exercise, from Code.org, with help from coding experts and officials from the Idaho Digital Learning Alliance and Idaho STEM Action Center. The exercise involved logically arranging commands to move around characters from Star Wars and the popular video game Minecraft.
Bedke delivered a proclamation from Idaho Gov. Brad Little that Dec. 4 to Dec. 10 is Computer Science Education Week. The proclamation says that computer science careers are in high demand, and students deserve a thorough computer science education with access to qualified teachers, technology and curriculum.
“It basically says what you’re doing right now is really good, and we’re proud of you,” Bedke told the 7 and 8 year olds after reading the proclamation. “The economy needs kids like you to learn all you can about computer science, because that’s where the jobs are when you get to be older.”
Idaho Rep. Soñia Galaviz, D-Boise, a longtime teacher at Whittier, said Monday’s event isn’t an anomaly at the school. Computer programming is a priority that’s taught throughout the year.
“We know when we start early – kindergarten, second grade – the landscape of their opportunity changes for them once they go to junior high and they’re taking advanced computer science courses or advanced science courses,” Galaviz said. “So the spark happens here.”