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Leverage coding workshops for help with MBs and Nova awards

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The importance of coding skills can not be overestimated in a world where AI, robotics, and big data dominate conversations about the future of work and whether traditional career paths are likely to become obsolete as technology advances accelerate.  BSA has some relevant merit badges in these subjects (obviously "Programming", but also "Digital Technology" and "Robotics"), and has some new Nova awards (like "Hello World", "Cub Scouts Can Code",  and "Execute") that can be earned by scouts at all levels.

For these awards, scouts need to learn the basics of machine logic and how to implement algorithms in 1 or more programming languages. Schools don't usually teach programming skills in adequate depth for today's world, and BSA might be well positioned to fill the gap for those scouts who are curious about a career path that is likely to remain viable in decades to come. 

Scouters who might not have parents with appropriate skills in coding can sometimes leverage events held at local colleges or companies.

I read an interesting article about how Capitol Area Council was leveraging a local event from the "Hour of Code" initiative to encourage their scouts to learn a bit about coding.  These events are held throughout the country, so Scoutmasters, Merit Badge Counselors and Nova Counselors could do similar initiatives in a lot of areas.  Here's the story:

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On 12/6/2019 at 2:07 PM, SSScout said:

Coding?  Enigma? Pigpen cipher? Oh wait...

WITRAN,  FORTRAN,  COBOL, BASIC, those don't count anymore ?

Worlds on top of worlds.....

You're showing your grey hairs there, Grandpa.

Today, programming skills are more vital than ever. While those languages you named are still around in time-tested legacy code, today's languages focus on small devices and big data. Everything is optimized for a world where data and resources are remote (or more often, unknown, out there in the nebulous "cloud").

Languages like Java or .Net enable many web-based applications, languages like Python are common for interpreted scripting, and languages like R are the choice for many data analytics jobs. 

We used to introduce kids to basic programming concepts with languages like BASIC, but today, it's more likely they'll use some kind of visual editor to create code with Scratch, Blockly or some other instruction-oriented language.

To those of you interested in things like this, the "HOUR OF CODE" events are happening this week (Dec 9-15).  Find out more at hourofcode.com

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