JOHNSTOWN - Some schools offer it as an elective, but high-school computer programming/coding classes can be hard to find in many schools in Pennsylvania and across the country.
Pennsylvania is 1 of 41 states where coding classes do not currently count toward math or science high school graduation requirements according to the Association for Computing Machinery.
Penn State junior Kathleen Warner took a programming course as an elective when she attended Bishop McCort High School.
"It was great but it would have been great to have so much more than that," said Warner. "I really think [programming] is going to be as foundational as grammar, math and everything else."
A new group, Code.org is trying to make computer programming/coding a standard part of school curriculums everywhere, or at least offer the chance for students to learn how to code.
The group has released a new web video featuring Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Facebook founder Marc Zuckerberg and musician Will.i.m to name a few, all of them talking about the importance of learning computer programming in a new economy.
"Here we are in 2013," said Will.i.am in the video. "We all depend on technology to communicate, to bank, for information, and none of us know how to read or write code."
Warner focused her attention on coding when she spent some of her sophomore year at a Silicon Valley startup.
"I realized being in that environment I needed to learn how to code to survive," she said. "Even the best people in marketing there have to know the fundamentals of coding."
Over at the Greater Altoona Career and Technology Center, instructor Frank Cristillo teaches coding to area students as an elective, but he too regrets it's not a standard part of school curriculums.
"It's helpful in more ways than just computer programming," he said. "It teaches a different way of thinking with problem solving techniques."
Crastillo believes part the problem getting schools and students interested in offering coding may come from what he says is a stigma associated with it.
"People out there feel that programming is for somebody what wants to sit behind a desk or play a game," he said. "It's far from that...you can achieve family sustaining wages with it."
Warner says learning to program has strengthened her abilities as a theater and advertising major at Penn State.
"I want to merge theater and tech," she said. "I'm really interested in music, casting and song collaboration...and if you're in any tech driven project, you have to know what's going on behind the scenes."
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