Tuesday, 21 July 2015

A Young Rewired State Experience - Festival of Code

First posted on Growing Coders, now part of Tech Age Kids

First year experience

"In the summer my son attended the Young Rewired State week of coding. We had to travel a far way to get to his centre and on one of the days I worked in the same building where the young starters gathered. It turned out that I sat in the same workspace as them for an afternoon.

It was an incredible experience to be a ‘fly on the wall’ at this event. There were 12 or so 13 to 17 year olds sitting in a workspace interacting with each other, leading brainstorming sessions, helping each other with difficult code, sharing ideas, trouble shooting bugs. I was amazed.

There was a mentor present but he only guided and listened, giving very little instruction, allowing the young coders to develop their own solutions and use each others strengths to solve problems. The teens needed no persuasion, pleading or bribing to get on with the job at hand. They saw purpose in what they were doing and worked together as a team. Don’t get me wrong they were still teenagers, fooling around, playing pranks, having a laugh, taking breaks to watch the latest trending video on YouTube. This bunch of young coders inspired me.

I believe these kids have much to offer the adult working world, in terms of their skills, lack of inhibitions and desire to stretch the boundaries. They bring an insight to a world we are only starting to create. They are living the digital age. Our kids will be the creators and developers of the next generation. They will see a world that we haven’t dreamed of yet.

As a parent is was interesting to observe how these teenagers, who are often labelled by society as being disruptive and uninterested, work together to creatively produce a piece of work. It made me wonder – maybe it is not their disruption but our ignorance to understand, or inability to create opportunity, or even lack of resource to show them something different. Maybe, just maybe, we shouldn't be trying to push every teenager into the same mould.

It has truly been a summer of greatness for my own teenager. His confidence in what he likes doing was boosted by attending Young Rewired State’s Festival of Code. He met others like him and has since continued to connect with them. It’s opened up a small work experience opportunity for him. He is more determined and clear about what is important to him. Simply incredible for a young teenager. And then school started… I will leave this post for another time.

But seriously just wanted to thank YRS2013 for making my younger coder feel important and not the geeky weird kid that sits in the corner of the class reading books."

YRS Hyperlocal

Since this experience, I have started volunteering for Young Rewired State (YRS) and opened a local YRS Hyperlocal in a city closer to home.  At the monthly meeting I have the pleasure of meeting other talented young coders and see their confidence grow as they learn and interact with like-minded peers.  Read about how I started a YRS Hyperlocal (YRSSoton): http://www.yrs.io/blog/how-to-kickstart-a-new-hyperlocal/

Tracy and I met at one of these monthly meet-ups. We share a common interest to help young people become creators and makers of technology and not just consumers thereof. We meet up once a month at our local university and learn to code websites and play games that teach coding skills, have fun with electrical circuits, 3D printers, quadcopters and much more; and provide opportunities for young coders to meet like-minded peers.

YRS Festival of Code

YRS Soton is really excited to be part of the Festival of Code this year, hosting the event for the first time.  We invite all the young coders in our area to join us for a week long hackathon, culminating in Birmingham for a weekend celebration of code. If you would like to find out more, check out: http://festival.yrs.io

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