Steve Jobs once said,"I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer, should learn a computer language, because it teaches you how to think."
Children use geometric thinking when they build with blocks, play a target game, or finish a puzzle.
Much like geometry, coding - writing computer software instructions - can help children learn to think and problem-solve better.
The ability to code encompasses all three pillars of education - reading, writing, and arithmetic - first espoused by Sir William Curtis in a speech in 1795.
A couple of years ago, I traveled for five days by car through the Indian countryside from New Delhi to Assam.
Aside from the sheer number of people everywhere - India has 1.3 billion - something else struck me. No matter how small, remote or poor the village, there seemed to be a computer school in each one. Sometimes the school would be in a dusty one-room retail front with the words "computer school" on the door.
about my state, my country, and even my own son.
Imagine the benefit of exposing young children to computer science. Sure, not all of them will become data scientists, coders or computer programmers, but that is not the point.
We teach our kids art and music, not necessarily for them to become professional artists or musicians. We do it to expose them to different ways of thinking, creative expression and problem-solving.
Some actually do thrive in these fields and go on to use the skills professionally. We should similarly empower kids with coding.
Mark Zuckerberg started coding in the sixth grade, not with the intention of using it to reach the billions of people who now use his Facebook creation.
But the exposure sparked his interest in the discipline and, in turn, allowed him to change the world.
Our current governor spends considerable time and resources trying to find companies to move to Virginia. While I believe this is admirable, there are greater endeavors that will benefit Virginia's future.
Exposing our children to coding at an early age will help create a young Virginian Zuckerberg.
Our financial investment is better spent on organic growth within Virginia to both create the next disrupting technology company and to create the workforce of the future. This should be a cornerstone of the new Virginia economy.
It is very clear that there is both job growth and a shortage of skilled workers in technology.
Software is automating more and more routine jobs. Increasingly, companies in all industries are using data science.
According to Forbes, the median salary of a junior data scientist is over $91,000 per year.
What is truly alarming is that one in three of them are foreign born. This must change.
We depend on technology in every industry - agriculture, tourism, manufacturing and more. It is part of the very fabric of Virginia's, America's and the world's economy. The ability to write lines of code will give future Virginia workers an edge over others.
If we want to be competitive in Virginia, not only in comparison to the rest of the United States, but in the world, we must expose our youth to coding at an early age.
Digital literacy is the universal language of the future.
It may sound daunting to teach children coding basics, but that could not be further from the truth. Websites like code.org have full game-like curricula for children ages 4 and up.
We live in amazing times. Never before could someone think of an idea, create it, put it instantly into the hands of millions and change the world. Imagine the possibilities.