An "Hour of Code" with Color, Images, and Astronomy

For many, it might be hard to imagine living a life without computers and technology. In fact, it’s become so much a part of our society that we may not realize how dependent we are on technology.

But who does the work that enables these computers to fit into our daily lives? Who gets to learn how to code? A project called “Hour of Code” as well as Computer Science Education Week is seeking to address that question by increasing access to coding opportunities for elementary, middle and high school students, and particularly girls and underrepresented students of color.

Here at the Chandra X-ray Center we strongly believe in this goal as well. We’ve joined forces with other members of the astronomical community, including an astronomer at the American Astronomical Society, others at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, as well as partners at Google's CS First and Pencil Code, to create a project for the “Hour of Code” that combines color, astronomy, and coding:

Caption: Students can color the Universe with real astronomy data from NASA telescopes and other observatories.

Working with NASA and other data from exploded stars, to star-forming regions, to the area around black holes, students learn basic coding (for beginners - no experience required) and follow a video tutorial to create a real world application of science, technology and even art.

Caption: Learn basic coding for beginners with a video tutorial to create a real-world application.

By enabling students to use real data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, along with other astronomical data, this project helps show just how integral coding is in the pursuit of learning about our Universe. We hope it’s an example of the exciting ways that computer science – from routine tasks in our every day lives to the extraordinary quest to explore the cosmos – is part of it all.

Many thanks to David Bau, August Muench, Matthew Dawson & Cait Sydney Pickens for letting Chandra help out with the project!

-Megan Watzke & Kim Arcand, Chandra

Recoloring the Universe for #HourOfCode with Pencil Code

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