The Dial

Students take advantage of Hadi Partovi’s Hour of Code

Partovi%27s+Hour+of+Code+initiative+has+allowed+the+computer+science+program+at+Hackley+to+grow.+Sophomore+Stefen+Burns+takes+part+in+the+movement+during+his+computer+science+class+in+early+December.+
Partovi's Hour of Code initiative has allowed the computer science program at Hackley to grow. Sophomore Stefen Burns takes part in the movement during his computer science class in early December.

Partovi's Hour of Code initiative has allowed the computer science program at Hackley to grow. Sophomore Stefen Burns takes part in the movement during his computer science class in early December.

Photo credit: Sydney Stoller

Photo credit: Sydney Stoller

Partovi's Hour of Code initiative has allowed the computer science program at Hackley to grow. Sophomore Stefen Burns takes part in the movement during his computer science class in early December.

By Sydney Stoller, Assistant Online Editor

Hadi Partovi is the co-founder of the nonprofit Code.org, a former employee of Microsoft, and an investor in numerous other start-ups, but one of his lesser known accomplishments is his graduation from Hackley School. Mr. Partovi and his twin and colleague Ali Partovi left the Hilltop in 1990, where he was valedictorian of his class and the recipient of the Stanley Pennock Science Award and the Sherman Book Prize. Despite their leaving more than twenty years ago, the Partovi’s legacy at Hackley lives on through the school’s participation in their Hour of Code event every December.

Hadi Partovi traveled a long way to his eventual alma mater Harvard University, from his birthplace in Tehran, Iran. As a child growing up amidst the Iran-Iraq War, Partovi was always intrigued by the intricacies of computer science, although it was not offered at the school that he attended in Iran. He details a major turning point in his life as the day his father brought home a Commodore 64 computer and he taught himself and his twin brother Ali to write code.

After moving to the United States and attending Hackley, Partovi realized that computer science is a skill crucial to a student growing up in an age where the role of technology is increasing in all professional fields. Partovi reasons that this is a subject just as important as English or History, and should therefore be treated as a mandatory core class.

Partovi started his career as an entrepreneur by creating on various start-ups over the course of many years. These start-ups consisted of Tellme, a voice recognition software developed in 1999 and sold to Microsoft in 2007, and iLike, a social music discovery website, that was sold to Myspace in 2009.

By September 2012, just after iLike was shut down, Partovi recalled his passion for computer science education and Code.org was born. The current mission statement of the new nonprofit is to increase access to computer science classes in schools around the world, specifically encouraging the involvement of women and underrepresented minorities.

One of Code.org’s successes is its worldwide establishment of the annual Hour of Code initiative. The Hour of Code is a one hour introduction to computer science that teaches students to celebrate computer science.

The event takes place every December fourth through tenth and this year is made up of over 106,050 events around the world. December 2017 will mark the fifth annual Hour of Code celebration, as well as the participation of more than 450 million students around the world.

Hackley has been an ardent supporter of the Hour of Code initiative ever since its launching in December 2013. In only Hour of Code’s second year, Hadi Partovi and his twin brother and co-founder Ali returned to their alma mater to give a presentation to middle and upper school students about the importance of computer science.

On the Hilltop, everyone from kindergarten to twelfth grade is able and encouraged to be exposed to computer science in one way or another. Lower School students completed Hour of Code activities, like Code Crazy Creatures or Lightbot, during their scheduled computer classes and were paired up with Upper School AP and Post-AP computer science students who acted as supplementary teachers to Partovi’s Hour of Code program.

Similarly, Middle Schoolers are recommended to visit a computer lab throughout the day where they too will take part in Hour of Code exercises, aided by computer science teachers to advise them. Finally, in addition to mentoring Lower schoolers, advanced computer science students have designed tee shirts celebrating Computer Science Education and Hour of Code.

Although Partovi is no longer present at the Hilltop and is busy dealing with worldwide access to Hour of Code, his beliefs live on. In alignment with both his and Code.org’s mission statement, computer science teacher Eric Tusch declares that the importance of the Hour of Code is for people to gain “the understanding that anyone can code regardless of age, gender, or socioeconomic status.”

In addition, Tusch adds that, “The field of computer science is one of the fastest growing in the United States, and companies across our economy need employees with computer science skills.”

As a result of Hadi Partovi’s love for computer science and coding, Code.org and the Hour of Code initiative have both been extremely successful. Hackley’s own computer science program has grown drastically over the past few years, with the introduction of new classes and higher enrollment. The Hilltop is leading by example and will, with the help of students similar to Partovi, continue to enlarge the computer science program in a world where it is becoming more important than ever.

 

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