The summer holidays can be an expensive time for parents. However over 1,200 children between the ages of 5-18 are fortunate to be taking part in this year’s ‘Festival of Code’. Launched by ‘Young Rewired’, The Festival of Code is a week long event taking place at 66 regional centres in the UK, culminating in a showcase in Birmingham where participants can share experiences and projects.
Led by a team of experts the young people take part in a range of coding projects to develop games, websites and apps. Making use of 'open data' also means they learn about hardware hacks as well as solving real life problems they might find in the work place. This is probably the largest worldwide coordinated hacking event. Our Developer Lee says "Once you've learnt the basics of code, you have a huge knowledge base to draw from and you won't run out of resources, if you know what you want the programme to do and write code for it, then, if it doesn't work you can just delete it and start again. There's plenty of scope for experimentation when working in a virtual environment".
Since its launch in 2009 Rewired has aimed to encourage more diversity amongst participants.
"Between 2009 at our first event, and 2014 at our latest Festival of Code, we have worked endlessly to ensure that there is a more diverse community of young people interested and engaged in computer science. In 2009, we had a 2% female attendance, and in 2014, we managed to bring it up to 30%. We will continue to work towards gender parity, and outreach to harder to reach groups."
This year further embraces the capacity for digital reach with at least 120 of this years participants taking part remotely from as far away as Kosovo, New York and Bern.
With the week in full swing young people have already been learning associated production skills for developing websites and apps such as storyboarding, creating wire-frames and site maps. There is also a chance to find out more about non-screen based digital innovation such as drones and brainwave sensing headsets, and even how digital is being used in Parliament. Mentors from across the digital spectrum also introduce attendees to related marketing skills to help them understand how they would encourage users to interact with their websites and apps.
With coding now an official part of the curriculum these types of events are likely to continue to grow. Our Developer Lee says "The best way to learn code is through experimentation. Open source communities such as this are a great way to find out more just by looking through code others have written, once you've found out how someone else has solved a problem and understand their code you're on the right track. Copying a piece of code in this way is a great learning exercise but of course it's important to know how it works and why so you can apply those skills and move forward". With around 35% of jobs in the UK at risk of becoming automated in the next 20 years and 'digital know-how' being considered to be the skill employers are most widely seeking its great that young people are embracing digital early on!