Programming skills and app development are a highway to success in today’s world, but there are a lot of kids who don’t even know how to get on the access ramp. More often than not, they don’t know how to find a way to learn these skills and find it too intimidating to even try. Javeria Masood, IT Consultant at netlogx, is doing something to change that. For the past eleven months she has been teaching middle-schoolers (and sometimes their parents) how to learn programming skills and use them in the real world.
The success of her efforts have brought her recognition not only from the children she teaches and their parents, but is now being recognized by Junior Achievement® of Central Indiana who nominated Javeria to receive the award of Indy’s Best and Brightest for 2016 in the category of Technology [The ten categories of the award are: 1) Accounting; 2) Banking & Financial Services; 3) Education & Nonprofit; 4) Government; 5) Health & Life Sciences; 6) Law; 7) Manufacturing, Retail & Services; 8) Media, Entertainment & Sports; 9) Real Estate, Development & Construction; and 10) Technology.]
By day, Javeria is an IT Consultant at netlogx, but in her off hours she is the leader of the CoderDojo 4638, a coding club in Fishers, Indiana. The goal of the club is to help kids develop core coding skills. How did a busy working woman decide to use her precious spare time to get involved with this?
Prior to joining netlogx, Javeria worked for McGraw-Hill, where she provided support for teachers, students, and Boards of Education for a standardized testing computer application. In listening to the people she supported, she realized that older high school- and college-age students had access to devices and programming know-how, but that middle-schoolers did not. She came to understand that there was a gaping hole that was needed to be filled. Javeria researched ways to get teaching materials, devices, and a meeting space so that she could teach 8-15 year olds who wanted to learn how to code.
After going down a lot of rabbit holes and blind alleys, Javeria found the teaching tools at low or no cost (Hopscotch), got donors (netlogx and the TechPoint Foundation for Youth) to give used equipment, and a space to hold the learning sessions (Launch Fishers provides the space). She now fills all of the seats available in the class, which is held on the third week of every month. Initially, the kids were taught to program using Hopscotch, a building block application that teaches beginning programming skills, Hopscotch is still used for younger or beginner level learners, but other tools are also used such as Python, RasperryPi, HTML, Swift from Apple, and Scratch from MIT.
Things are evolving in some unexpected and amazing ways. Besides learning how to code, Javeria has observed the kids learning other skills and gaining confidence in unexpected areas. The kids are acquiring learning presentation skills to tell people what their programs do; and they are gaining confidence along the way. Javeria says that “There are kids in my class who would not even say their name on the day they started. Now they are standing and presenting!” The goal is not just coding, but also contributing to the community at large and building skills in addition to coding. This is especially important for the girls in the group.
What does the future bring? The group will be having an event sponsored by the Apple Store in Indianapolis where the store will provide robots that can be programmed using iPads. Not surprisingly, it is sold out. Javeria also has plans to start coder dojos in other cities in Indiana. She also wants to found them in Juvenile Detention Centers so that kids in those centers can start contributing to their communities. She also hopes to spread coder dojos internationally. She is exploring an opportunity with Seeds of Learning in India and Pakistan, to start up a CoderDojo there to teach coding skills to young girls there. Javeria is proud to be a role model who demonstrates that girls can code too!
Classes are now held every third Saturday from 11:00am-1:00pm at Launch Fishers in Fishers, Indiana and now in-classroom devices are supplied by Multiply Technology. Javeria is always looking for classroom mentors to volunteer. To volunteer, contact Javeria at email@example.com. To sign up for a class, the link is here. Children under thirteen years of age must be accompanied by a parent or guardian for the entire class.
Javeria wishes to thank Audrey Taylor, CEO, owner and founder of netlogx, and Nick Taylor, co-owner of netlogx, for being a constant source of encouragement and support, including referring Javeria to Junior Achievement® Job Spark, a coalition of educators and industry leaders, led by Junior Achievement of Central Indiana. Both Audrey and Nick will be speakers at a CoderDojo 4638 event in December when it celebrates its one-year anniversary. There will be booths and guest speakers, awards for students, parents, and volunteers. All are welcome to attend. Sign up on EventBrite when that event is posted in early December.
For more information see:
Fishers Townepost Article (pg15-40)
Join the fun on Twitter @coderdojo46038