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Some of the world’s most famous sports stars are putting their support behind computer science education.

Top athletes like Kobe Bryant, Neymar Jr., Serena Williams, and a handful of others appear in a new video for Code.org, which is helping put on the annual “Hour of Code” campaign this week. They encourage students to study computer science and provide some positive reinforcement about the learning process.

Code.org co-founder Hadi Partovi told GeekWire that the athletes are role models for students around the world.

“The reason all these athletes are supporting the campaign is because they recognize that computer science and coding are foundational for a well-rounded education,” he said. “And in a world where opportunity increasingly feels limited only to a few, the best jobs in the world should be accessible to every child, regardless of their gender or race or where they’re born.”

Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi.
Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi.

Code.org also today just released a new sports-themed coding tutorial it developed in partnership with the NBA and WNBA that helps teach kids the basics of computer programming. The lesson lets students create their own basketball, football, soccer, or hockey games with their favorite logos.

It’s part of The Hour of Code, an initiative Code.org started two years ago as a way to introduce computer science education to students around the world. More than 20 million lines of code have been written by students via The Hour of Code tutorials.

Code.org has collaborated with other celebrities and partners for the Hour of Code campaign, including FrozenStar Wars, and Microsoft — now you can add professional athletes to that list.

Founded by Partovi and his brother Ali, Seattle-based Code.org employs 60 people. The program has trained 50,000 new K-12 computer science teachers to teach full computer science classes to more than one million K-12 students. Code.org also has partnerships with school systems in more than 100 cities and districts.

Looking ahead, Partovi said the “most important milestone” for Code.org is the new AP Computer Science Principles exam, which debuts this year.

“Code.org has prepared over 400 new high school teachers to offer this course,” Partovid said. “AP computer science is traditionally a course whose students are primarily white and Asian, but because our teachers are mostly in urban public school districts we expect to dramatically change the demographics of AP Computer Science this year.”

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