In the UK, this year is when teaching children how to code is really going to take off, and come September coding will be made a mandatory subject for state-run primary schools and for some in secondary schools.
The British education system is taking a leaf from the US in this regard. Over the pond, the organisation “Black Girls Code” is trying to bridge a digital divide and give girls the IT skills they need.
At hackathons, the girls brainstorm as a team, then research their ideas and design their apps. One of the organisers of the event, Donna Knut, said she got involved after feeling intimated in computer classes, because she was the only woman. “To me it’s really personal to help young girls understand that it’s not intimidating…You don’t have to be scared to be a techie. And I think when they get that at that young age, as they progress, it’s not as intimidating any more.” This hackathon was a two-day event but summer camps are springing up across the globe. These coding camps offer residential intensive coding programs for children as young as six years old.
FunTech is based in London and south east England and has been teaching children computing since 1996. Sheineez Barber has been running the program and each year kids come from Europe to their summer camps. The child-focused scheme includes Lego robotics, 3D game design and a course using Minecraft to teach the students to understand and then virtually build the inside of a computer. Barber said, “Parents are quite surprised because we’re not just childcare with a technology element – we have a properly academic approach so the children really do learn key skills,”
Ralph Dreischmeier is the global leader for technology at the Boston Consulting Group and he has sent three children to FunTech. “Our kids will live very differently and the difference between their generation and mine will be much more radical than that between mine and my parents, so it’s important they learn about technology in an exciting and interesting way.” The cost of a week at FunTech’s new residential course is £879 ($1,500) although scholarships are available to some.
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[Image via blog.codehs]