In my last post here, I gave a few ideas as to why you as a young woman should get your hands dirty with coding: it’s fun, it’s easy, it’s creative, and it’s meaningful. Today I wanted to follow that up with some resources for where you can get that knowledge.
Mozilla offers a number of free tools to help you get creating with technology through their Webmaker initiative. Popcorn lets you take existing video – yours or a favourite from YouTube or another source – and enhance and remix it. You can add text, links and maps to videos to customise them and make them your own. X-ray Goggles let you see – and change – the code behind any website, whether it’s your own blog or something world famous! Screenshots and hilarity generally follow, and you’re learning to understand source code while tinkering with the web pages. Thimble makes it easy to write and preview HTML/CSS code to create your own website. You can start from scratch or edit one of the projects in their gallery. The Mozilla Foundation has created these free tools to give young people a fun environment that allows them to move from a consumer to a maker of digital content. I highly recommend a play-around on these sites!
If you had something a bit more social in mind, check to see if there is a Coder Dojo in your area – here is their directory page. Coder Dojo’s are free meet-ups where kids are given projects and mentored to learn to code. Kids as young as seven years old and as old as 17 come to coder dojos to work with volunteers to work on websites, apps and other projects.
There are other groups that work mainly through schools – and if you make noise you may be able to get one set up at yours! Apps for Good helps 11-18 year olds develop apps and take them to market. The programme is available at no cost at least for the coming year, and growing very quickly. The emphasis with Apps for Good goes beyond the programming, with an emphasis on the planning and design of the app, developer support for the actual programming, and also helping young people think about how you would actually market a final product. Have a look at their gallery – very impressive!
A fantastic group organising after school programming lessons for 9 – 11 year olds – Code Club just launched this year and already have over 600 schools participating! Lessons are run by volunteers – often professional developers – and for the moment they focus on Scratch. Have a look at their website for information on how to get a Code Club at your school.
Last but not least, my own organisation has just launched London’s first tech day camps. Fire Tech Camp runs all-day sessions during term breaks and summer holidays, at Imperial College in London. We offer video game programming, mobile app design and robotics to 9 – 14 year olds in a fun environment. Camp runs Monday through Friday and is scheduled to correspond to working parents’ hours (8.30 am drop off and 6 pm pick up) so that you can learn to innovate and create with technology while your parents have to work! We hope to spread to other cities in the UK in the coming months.
I hope this gives you some ideas for how you can learn to program, either on your own or with others, to become a tech creator!
Jill Hodges is the Founder of Fire Tech Camp, London’s first technology day camp. Fire Tech Camp is teaching kids to programme video games, develop mobile apps and engineer robots during week-long courses held during term breaks and summer holidays. If you’d like to come to camp, apply for a scholarship, or provide sponsorship to children who want to learn to get creative with technology, visit our website on www.FireTechCamp.com, like our FaceBook page, and follow us on Twitter.