Students programmed in dance moves, accident avoidance maneuvers and other actions during their science classes as part of Hour of Code activities Monday at Wilson Middle School.

The nonprofit AIM Institute helped facilitate the event, which is part of a global initiative that reaches tens of millions of students in more than 180 countries.

“The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics,” according to the Hour of Code website.

AIM promotes the event because of the number of computer-related jobs and the demand for more programmers.

“We try to spark interest in technical careers and careers in general,” said Josh Jessen, director of AIM’s Talent Search program. “We’re really seeing a need getting larger and larger out there.”

Lifetime earnings of a computer science major average $1.67 million — 40 percent more than the average college graduate and almost three times as much as the average high school graduate, according to the Hour of Code website.

Nate Kreifels is one of the teachers who made Hour of Code happen Monday in his classroom. He played a brief video on why technology is important, then set the students loose on the Hour of Code website,

“There’s a whole lot of games they can choose from and different levels,” Kreifels said.

Among students’ favorites were Dance Party, Minecraft Hour of Code, The Grinch: Saving Christmas with Code, Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with Code and Build a Flappy Game.

Seventh-grader Zakkary Barnhart was in Dance Party controlling the moves an on-screen figure performed during a song he had selected.

“This is fun,” he said. “It’s really interactive. I like some of the music we have to choose from.”

Zakkary said he is interested in learning more about coding.

Derek Runions, another seventh-grader, said he enjoys playing computer games.

“Right away when I get home from school, I play computer games — after I do my chores,” he said.

Derek also likes coding.

“I feel like it’s fun — and it’s easy, once you get the hang of it,” he said. “I started coding in first grade, because my cousin showed me it.”

Seventh-grader Bryanna Freeman was playing The Grinch: Saving Christmas with Code, helping the Grinch’s sleigh avoid hitting trees and reindeer on its way down Mount Crumpit to Whoville. This game was particularly popular in her class.

At the beginning level, players make the sleigh jump over obstacles, Kreifels said. At more advanced levels, players have to program the sleigh to jump whenever it is approaching an obstacle. The game has 18 levels for players who advance to the top.

Students who want to tackle more advanced technology challenges can join Jacket Coders, Tech Explorers or a robotics team at Wilson, Kreifels said.

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