A few weeks have passed since I started working with students, teaching them how to code. During this time, the 6th graders at Håstensskolan have learned about several different programming concepts. They now know the basics of how computers work and how computers are being used to solve different real world problems. They have even got some hands-on experience with creating software of their own. Little snippets of code at first, but after a while, they started implementing parts of a complete application.
Programming is hard. All the terminology is foreign, the concepts are abstract and the logic can be hard to grasp. But programming is also a great tool for expressing your creativity. Once you get past the bumps at the start of your journey toward becoming a coding guru, you can start enjoying the ride.
Some of the students seem to have already arrived at this stage. Throughout the classroom I sometimes hear exclamations of wonder as a small mistake leads to some unexpected results. This is one of the great joys of programming: the exploratory nature of coding. The kids can now discover on their own that small changes in the behavior of a program can lead to very different outcomes. Having been part of helping them get there is something I can feel proud about.
Thanks to the collaboration between the school and Procera, they don't have to wait until high school to get a chance to learn about programming. Given the way the school system works in Sweden, this is quite important. If you do not take the correct courses in high school you may not be eligible for an education at an institute of technology. Introducing programming early on might give some students the motivation to pursue a career in tech before it becomes significantly harder to switch disciplines.
This is especially important when it comes to young girls. There is a lack of women in the IT industry that is reflected in the gender ratio of enrolled students to engineering programs. That is why we made sure at least half of the students in the group at Håstensskolan were girls; to give them an opportunity to enter this otherwise male dominated industry. It's not only a matter of gender equality, but also a matter of meeting the demand for developers in general. To satisfy this demand there needs to be more women in IT.
Teaching a small group of kids in elementary school how to program will most definitely not be enough to remedy the situation, but at least it's a start. Most of all, it has been fun and I can highly recommend it. Do you know how to code and want to share your knowledge with others? Perhaps you could check out the local chapter of CoderDojo in your town and give them a hand. And who knows? Maybe together we can make an impact.
Topics: What We're Up To