484,452 -- that is the number of open computing jobs nationwide.

The number is even more staggering when you consider that around 14,000 of those high-paying, unfilled jobs are right here in Ohio.

Computer science not only offers stable and lucrative employment possibilities, it provides skills that will be integral in life.

I am the new coordinator of student services for Whitehall City Schools, and I am so excited to bring the Hour of Code into two of our elementary schools.

The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify coding -- the process of writing scripts in programming languages that tell computers what to do.

I love this idea, because something that I never want to hear from a student is "it's too hard" or "I can't do that." Those phrases are nonsense, and my goal is to prevent any child from thinking they can't code.

What I absolutely love about the Hour of Code activities is that they are broken down into small tasks and divided by age levels. Using the resources, we were able to find a starting point for every child, and we built upon those skills that they were developing as the programs were designed to increase in difficulty.

As students master a level, the next level is a little more difficult -- much like playing a video game. The difference between playing a video game and writing code is that you are actually designing the game.

Etna Road and Beechwood elementary schools were the pioneers of this effort. Both buildings implemented the Hour of Code schoolwide to give access to every child. This is something that I have done in my previous district and found it to be motivating and compelling for students of all ages, grade levels and interests.

It's mesmerizing to watch the kids so deep into a challenge. I loved watching them get up and show their peers what they designed, and that Ram pride was contagious. Several kids even taught me a thing or two when designing a dance-party program, like how to floss. I didn't even know how to do it myself, let alone program a robot to do it! Good thing a fourth-grader was able to come to my rescue.

In addition to the crazy dance designs, students were able to demonstrate computational thinking, problem solving and collaboration -- all of which are critical skills they will need to change our world.

"When can we do this again?" was the question I was asked as I left each classroom. The administrators and teachers created the perfect atmosphere for coding. It was fun, OK to make mistakes, and everyone was learning together.

Several teachers and administrators commented that students who normally are quiet in class became the leaders.

We would like to extend a huge thank you to the Eastland-Fairfield Career & Technical Schools and its programming and software development instructor Michael Buziewicz for sending programming students to help our elementary schoolers with this endeavor.

Maria Boyarko is coordinator of student services at Whitehall City Schools.