Coding and Robots: For Inspiration and Recognition of Computer Science and Technology

Why We’re Celebrating Hour of Code and Computer Science Education Week 

Dec 09, 2019 By Libby Simpson, FIRST Director of Education




Computer Science in the Classroom

What do Alexa, Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant have in common, besides being included in many popular holiday gifts this year? They are all created using computer science. Along with so many other technologies that are made “smarter” using electronics and coding, robots are the most popular symbol of high technology and have been since the early days of science fiction. Most of the technology behind everyday appliances in a household today is even more advanced than that which took the first astronauts to the moon.

The robots of today don’t necessarily look like our favorite sci-fi droids but rather the washing machine or wearable device on your holiday gift list. With the ever-increasing processing power of devices and the world of cloud computing, computer science is a necessary knowledge base our students in K-12 need to have. The need to not just understand the high-tech world all around them but what makes it work is an essential and largely missing element of the top academic focuses of education.   

A Classroom Activity for Hour of Code

With Computer Science in Education (CSED) Week and Hour of Code, happening this week, it is the perfect opportunity to bring this valuable knowledge to your students by introducing computational thinking and creative problem solving into your classroom. Events such as Hour of Code generate momentum and excitement around the idea of learning to code. Participating in the Hour of Code allows students and teachers to learn the basics of coding in a fun and relevant way.  There are numerous resources to use well beyond just the single hour and is a great springboard of building confidence in learning and teaching coding. 

FIRST is an inclusive robotics community that prepares young people for the future.  Whether it is finding their people or their path, students gain skills to succeed in the classroom and workforce. This year, we’re hosting a web stream for Hour of Code on FIRSTTv that will feature a fun “offline” coding activity for students in grades 4 – 9.  You and your students can follow along with the stream and participate in this coding activity using materials found in your own classroom. Find a description of the activity and a list of materials you will need linked here - activity and lesson plan. This activity is intended to light the spark and provide a platform for problem solving, creative thinking, team work and communication, components that are more critical to understanding computer science than learning to code in any one programming language.

Following the “offline” coding activity, we’ll transition into a more complex coding project, building upon what you and your students learned in the first segment. Once that project is completed, we’ll show you how you can seamlessly bring Computer Science into your classroom using the FIRST Class Pack solution.

No matter what industry or career students in today’s classroom enter, their work will involve some technology interaction. If we prepare our students to not just interact with but envision ways to creatively use, design, engineer or build the solutions of tomorrow, their thinking skills will go way beyond the technical knowledge associated with a device.  These 21st century, holistic skills are the true need of our future workforce. 

Bringing Robotics and Coding into Your Classroom

If you’re interested in bringing computer science and robotics learning to your classroom year-round, check out the Class Pack editions of our STEM education programs for PreK-12 students.

Class Pack is a way to bring computer science to the class room through engaging robotics challenges that transform your classroom into an exciting and engaging learning environment where students are eager for learning.  FIRST introduces students to coding and engineering in an environment where they work collaboratively to solve a robotics challenge. FIRST programs are proven to build 21st century skills, including innovative thinking, and greatly increase students’ motivation to seek education and careers in STEM fields. 

Learn more about FIRST Class Packs for PreK-12

If you have an inspiring story or piece of wisdom that you’ve picked up through your experiences in the FIRST community, please reach out to us at and inquire about becoming a guest contributor for Inspire.

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