Turning little coders into career coders

The fourth Thursday in April is National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. Because it’s estimated that by 2020, there will be a million more computer science jobs than there are computer scientists, Code42 encouraged its employees to get their little coders started early.

Our objective for this day was to invest time in future generations of technologists—from toddlers to high school seniors. We called our event, “Bring Your Coder to Work Day,” and facilitated STEM-focused activities and projects for all ages.

I was personally inspired to create this event by my 15 year-old brother Benjamin. At Thanksgiving dinner, he asked me if he could shadow an engineer for a day because he really wanted to learn how to code. I was a little surprised that an adolescent was starting to think about a career, let alone a career in computer science.

The idea to host toddlers to teenagers grew into an event with more than 100 children in attendance. The youngest group built robot costumes with their parents and paraded through two buildings and five floors at Code42. Children ages six to eight used Scratch software to practice creative thinking, collaboration and reasoning skills. Nine to 11 year-olds used Arduino, an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software and played Code Monkey Island, an educational board game that teaches how to use and master the fundamentals of computer science. And 12 to 18 year-olds used MIT’s App Inventor, a blocks-based programming tool to build fully functional apps for Android devices. The oldest group also had a chance to step out of reality via Oculus Rift, the 3D virtual reality headset that lets players step inside video games.

It was a great day, enjoyed by coders and parents alike. And if we inspired any future computer scientists in the process—and end up hiring one of these little coders some day—all the better!

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