More than 400 Minnesota schools this week will be observing the Hour of Code, a global initiative geared toward introducing students how to write computer code.

The event is sponsored by Code.org, a non-profit supported by tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. The group's website has several coding tutorials and resources for anyone interested in learning the skill.

Last year's event helped ignite interest in coding at Minnetonka Public Schools, which has since implemented coding in its curriculum for elementary students.

Just some of the metro area schools participating in the Hour of Code this week include: all elementary schools in the Osseo School District, Barton Open School, Sanford Middle School, Eden Prairie High School, and Ridgeview Elementary in Bloomington.

In Minnetonka, Deephaven Elementary is hosting an all-school, after school coding party on Wednesday.

And that's not all. It's also Computer Science Education Week per proclamation by Gov. Mark Dayton.

Despite surging student interest in coding, Minnesota is one about 25 states that don't count computer science as a math or science requirement. Instead, it is considered a general elective.

Many teachers, parents, and school administrators are pushing for that to change.

In August, a fledgling state group of computer science teachers collected a petition with about 1,600 signatures asking the Minnesota Department of Education to make computer science a requirement.

In Minnesota last year, only 117 students took the college-level Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science Exam, about 1.5% of all the students who took an AP exam in Minnesota, according to the Gopher State Computer Science Teachers Association.

"We’re simply not doing enough to prepare or encourage our students to pursue these high-paying, vital careers," wrote Douglas Maine, the group's president and a math and computer science teacher at Owatonna High School. "Nearly all major computing innovations were invented here in this country, but we’re at risk of losing that leadership if we don’t do something now. We need to make some changes."

Teacher Kirsten Lunzer worked with student William Sadowski on a coding challenge at Deephaven Elementary School. Photo by Glen Stubbe

Teacher Kirsten Lunzer worked with student William Sadowski on a coding challenge at Deephaven Elementary School. Photo by Glen Stubbe