What do NBA superstar Chris Bosh and singer-songwriter will.i.am share in common with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg? 

Well, besides the fact they log in to the social media app from time to time, the celebrities have expressed an interest in coding. That's right — the Miami Heat power forward and the frontman for The Black Eyed Peas are interested in computer programming.

Will.i.am. even calls coding a "super power" in a promotional video for Hour of Code, a movement organized to encourage schools to teach students across the globe about computer programming.

In honor of Computer Science Education Week, schools throughout the Quad-City area hosted Hour of Code events for students. 

Smart Intermediate School in Davenport, for example, introduced students to coding on Friday during an all-day event. 

"One hour? No, that's not enough," Smart principal Todd Hawley said as he walked through the halls at the middle school on West 5th Street. "We're just trying to show them that math and science are fun."

In Nicole Lenius' sixth-grade class, students learned how to transform hexadecimal numeral and binary number systems into colors on Google Chromebooks. 

"I get it!" 11-year-old Logan Decklar declared after punching in the right digits to light up the screen with the color orange. "I'm coloring."

Students at Smart throughout the day tested their teamwork, creativity and problem-solving skills as they picked up beginner computer programming tricks.

Donning a "Code Like a Girl" shirt, Emily Goodknight, a teacher librarian at Smart, made it clear that coding is not just for boys.

"And it's not just for nerds," she said. "It's for everybody, and anybody can do it."

Megan Dunn, 12, agreed.

"I can do really whatever I put my mind to," said the sixth-grader, who thought of coding as relaxing. "Whenever I doubt myself, I get worked up, and that's not fun."

Marguerite Dasso, a math teacher and technology specialist at Smart, said she expected some frustrated students Friday. 

"Before today, they didn't have the background or knowledge to do an hour of coding," said Dasso, who introduced algorithms and tangram puzzles to her seventh-grade honors math students. "I hope it sparks an interest for some of them because they're probably not going to learn how to code at home." 

Dasso said she also pushed for the all-day crash course in computer literacy to help the school's chances of winning $10,000 to purchase new technology. 

"With more technology, we can close opportunity gaps for a lot of kids in this neighborhood," Hawley said. 

According to CoderDojo Muscatine, a volunteer-led, free coding club for students, there are more than 5,000 open computing jobs in Iowa, but only 33 schools throughout the state teach computer science.

"We want to help kids understand that you could be a doctor or a veterinarian or a teacher and use technology to solve problems,” Maxx Williams, co-director of curriculum at CoderDojo Muscatine, said. 

On Saturday, Scott Community College is hosting an Hour of Code event for 70 local middle school students. The Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM-focused, event will introduce students to Google Glass, virtual reality and 3-D modeling, Alan Campbell, a spokesman for Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, said. 

Nearly 200,000 #HourOfCode events around the world were scheduled this week for tens of millions of students in more than 180 countries, according to code.org


Jack Cullen writes about various sides of life across the Quad-City area in his Notes @ Noon column, which appears online at noon on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. He also covers the outdoors for a weekly section that runs in Saturday's print edition of the Quad-City Times and online at qctimes.com. Outside of work, you can find Jack on the tennis court, where he serves as a coach at Augustana College in Rock Island, his alma mater.