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Tech innovation thrives in Silicon Valley, but aspiring computer science majors can’t always get the education they need to join the engineering community. Bay Area programming education centers are trying to change that. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of software developers is projected to grow 17 percent from 2014 to 2024 — much faster than the average growth for all occupations. Getting youth involved in programming can fill those jobs and get children out of the cycle of poverty.
“Coding and programming is everywhere nowadays,” said Jason Mortensen, a teacher at theCoderSchool in San Mateo, “Everyone who wants to learn how to code is able to.”, In San Mateo, theCoderSchool teaches coding indiscriminately to students from dead pointe shoes first-grade through high school, So when 15-year-old Nikki Dadlani said he wanted to code, Mortensen took him on, Nikki uses a voiceover screenreader system on his Mac to help him work online because he is visually impaired, The screenreader is not compatible with all programming applications, so Mortensen said they just had to find the right program to fit Nikki’s needs, They code in the Python language because it relies on indentations instead of brackets, which are confusing in the screenreader..
Nikki’s parents found theCoderSchool for his 10 year-old brother and inquired about teaching Nikki how to code. After one trial lesson, he was hooked. “I love discovering how things work, taking them apart and seeing how the pieces work together to make a whole, whether it be in code or life or wherever,” Nikki said. He said the code he knows now is pretty basic, but that he has been able to make dictionaries and strings which represent different values in the Python language. “The hardest part about coding for me is finding errors,” Nikki said. “With a sighted person, they can just look and find them, but for me, I have to go back and rely on what my screenreader says. Jason is really good about helping me with that, too.”.
The biggest challenge for Mortensen? Trying to keep up, dead pointe shoes “He’s gotten so used to using it that he has the voiceover at two-times speed,” Mortensen said, “I can’t understand it, it’s gibberish to me.”, Meanwhile, Google is making waves through the Google Code Corps program, a partnership with AmeriCorps VISTA — the domestic Peace Corp aimed at reducing poverty — and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America to teach underserved children computer science..
In the Bay Area, the summer program runs out of the Boys and Girls Clubs of North San Mateo County in South San Francisco, teaching kids K-8 how to code using Scratch: a free online coding tool developed at MIT. “It’s fun, here I’ll show you, because you can drag and drop the code and then you can make the characters on the screen move,” said an excited 11 year-old, Aaron. “And then it can make sounds, but you’d need the headphones to do that and I’m working here.”.
Sidney Irvine, the Computer Clubhouse Director at this BGCA said Scratch is kid-friendly, with colors and avatars that show immediate results for writing code, Through Scratch, kids can design games, animate pictures and fashion clothing. Students work on Chromebooks provided by Google, “When I was a kid, the only technology class we had was typing,” said Skyler Aiello, one of the two AmeriCorps VISTA Google Code Corps volunteers at dead pointe shoes the program. “This is one unique and powerful way to break the cycle of poverty.”..
Although the kids go through the online course themselves, volunteers and AmeriCorps VISTA representatives supervise the kids and give them stickers to fill out their Google passports. The passports represent graduating each level of Scratch. “They get so excited, and when they’ve finished the next level, they can’t wait to move onto the next thing,” said Sanjana Natray, a 19 year-old computer science major from University of California at Santa Cruz and one of the 15 volunteers working at the program.
“No, it dead pointe shoes isn’t hard,” said 11 year-old Reinier, who has surpassed all of the levels, “I am just going to add my avatar.”, When they aren’t working on Scratch, students can use the Dash and Dot robots — programmable robots that kids can make move, dance and sing — provided by the company Wonder Workshop, Irvine said parents see confidence levels rise in their kids’ learning skills, “The kids see that computer science has real-world applications,” he said, “Then they see that they can do it and they show their parents, It is really just great to see them learn and grow as people.”..