Creating a New Generation of Computer Science Geniuses

A network of developers, educators, and parents aren't waiting for schools to teach kids the basics of computer science.

Think computer science should be a standard component of the public school curriculum? So does a grassroots group of educators, developers, parents, and industry leaders in the U.K. As part of a just-launched effort called Coding for Kids, they're working to find ways to teach kids how to code and generally "support education of programming and computational thinking for the current and next generations."

The inspiration for the group came from a speech by Google CEO Eric Schmidt in which he noted that by not teaching programming in schools, the U.K. is "throwing away your great computer heritage." Organizer Emma Mulqueeny, a parent who runs Young Rewired State, a network of developers aged 18 and under, has petitioned the U.K. Department of Education to add coding education to the curriculum in the fifth year of school.

Adding computer science education early, Mulqueeny wrote on the petition, would "lessen the disparity between the sexes." Waiting any later in students' education poses a risk of "losing the female coders" to the geek-aversion phenomenon. Early integration, Mulqueeny said, would also result in an "increased number of young people with an ability to manipulate open data, relate to code, and challenge each other to design and build the digital products that we have not even begun to imagine." Nearly 2,000 supporters of the effort have signed the petition.

Unsurprisingly, given the tech bent of Coding for Kids, online support for the effort is strong. The founders of the group hope to use the excitement to “build a community of people who could do so much more” to make an impact on the issue "than individuals or organizations." They’re also challenging interested parties to commit to furthering the coding education movement and tracking commitments on Twitter through the #codingforkids hashtag. Let's hope American supporters copy the movement and ensure students here learn computer science literacy too.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user whiteafrican

Screenshot via (left) Wikimedia Commons (right)

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