SF kids code for fun for free!

It’s official. Coding is cool and kids round the world want to learn. UK-based not-for-profit Young Rewired State (YRS) has just pulled off a Festival of Code for over 1000 kids across the UK and project coordinator Kaitlin Dunning is keen to promote the US version, launching this weekend in San Francisco.

‘The idea is to get kids across the world coding together,’ says Kaitlin, who works with her team in YRS HQ in the UK. From the British experience alone, it’s clear that YRS has tapped into a thirst for coding that is not being addressed in schools. And it’s all kinds of kids who flock to the weekends that provide mentors for aspiring developers from as young as six years old.

Beyond the nerd
‘A YRS weekend is not just for geeky coders,’ laughs Kaitlin over her coffee in the cafe where we’ve met right by London’s Tower Bridge. ‘It’s just like learning anything else. A lot of kids have other interests, especially the girls.’

The pre-teens and teens (the cut-off age is 18) work together over the weekend to make apps. They arrive with varying levels of developing skills – no experience is required to attend – and leave having had a lot of fun creating a working version or demo of an app. No fancy laptop needed – when you’re working in a team, an iPad can work as well as the latest software on a MacBook Air.

Going for global
With no shortage of willing mentors or enthusiastic kids, YRS is well on its way to fulfilling its mission: to find and foster every young kid to driven to teaching themselves to code. Weekend coding festivals have been held across Europe from London to Berlin and there are plans to launch weekends across America and Europe, as well as South Africa, Singapore, and Korea in 2014.

First up, though, is the programme’s expansion to the US with a weekend of free app making support for kids in San Francisco. Ironically for a city that gives birth to so much innovation on a daily basis, Kaitlin says this weekend (November 9th-10th) has been the hardest in terms of media attention. ‘Maybe it’s because it sounds like so much else that’s going on,’ says Kaitlin. ‘However, that’s not the case. We are different, we aren’t just another start up. We involve youths, who are the future of the tech industry.’ With the tech industry not only providing role models for wannabe entrepreneurs but also real jobs for college grads, it’s clear supporting kids coding is crucial.

‘We’re not so much about teaching, but bringing together people,’ says Kaitlin, explaining how what the kids learn from each other is just as important as the training they get from the mentors, a mix of university students and full-time developers who recognise the need to ‘give back’.

Community matters
‘We’re trying to make YRS more of a creator community than a user community,’ she adds, explaining how YRS is setting up post-event support for kids through meet ups and encouraging online communication between attendees. YRS relies on sponsorship and partnerships to cover the costs of venues and marketing and so far has had no trouble in pulling in the big names: Facebook, SAP, and Google in the UK Festival of Code, and Github, Sendgrid, and Keen.io the weekend in San Francisco. But what the program really needs, says Kaitlin, is regular European and American partners so the small team can focus on expansion rather than fund-raising.

‘The ideal is to have to this huge network of like-minded kids supporting each other,’ expands Kaitlin. Without a technology curriculum that includes teaching code or a solid network of coding clubs, learning to code has traditionally been an isolating hobby. Online resources like Team Treehouse, Codecademy and in person Coderdojo and Code Club meetings, along with Code Now and Code for America programs, have made a big difference to this, and by supporting online tuition with real events, YRS is making coding a social experience.

‘We see kids working together across the globe via Facebook and Twitter with our hashtags, they also communicate via the IRC on our YRS site, and subsidise in person meetings with Google Hangouts and Skype sessions’ says Kaitlin, describing how the kids who had attended the UK events mentored the American kids at YRS New York, the first YRS event outside of the UK.

Next up
In a world where education and creating job opportunities for the next generation is a hot topic everywhere, you can’t help but applaud this not-for-profit with a big global mission. For details on attending, supporting or sponsoring YRS, check out the links below. The big plan for 2014 is an international coding week called the Festival of Code in August, a step up from the previous UK only Festival of Code. Sounds like an opportunity waiting to be captured.

To register https://youngrewiredstate.org/yrs-everywhere/yrs-san-francisco

Watch a 5 minute video all about Young Rewired Statehttp://youtu.be/rP33dwTRFGM

T: @youngrewired #YRSSF
F: YRS Facebook

Kidscontent Founder Claire Comins is a volunteer mentor for YRS
T: @clairecomins

What r u searching 4?

While today’s news for the internet is that Yahoo has topped Google as a desktop search engine, Kidscontent wonders what we are really searching for when we tap into the inter web? Is it just a vain search for a ‘u r SO HOT!’ from a loved one or are we actually phishing for something that could catch a new wave of cultural revolution in its multi-layered net?

In today’s post, Kidscontent Founder Claire Comins urges readers to take 5 musical compositions that have struck a chord over the past four decades. Listen wisely to discover these musical geniuses who really know how to grab mass media by the horns.

Jackson 5 on the Ed Sullivan Show, 1970.

What Makes You Beautiful
As ‘This Is Us’ rolls into movie theaters, here’s 1D’s original super-clean music video that won them the hearts of pre-teen and teen girls worldwide.

California Gurls
Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg


Everything Has Changed
Taylor Swift featuring Ed Sheeran

First published Thursday August 22nd 2013 as a response to the blogpost ‘Who is me?’

Original readers of this blog will note that the 1D movie trailer has replaced The Beatles. This would not imply that these ‘Five Normal Lads Having the time of their life’ have ousted the Fab Four, simply that they are currently in the top spot. It should also be said that the music of The Beatles is inherent in all pop music – no doubt in my mind that all five artists listed here can play at least one set of Beatles songs by heart.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Who is me?

In an article on ‘The many faces of social: A short study of identity in a world of many social channels’*, writer and self-proclaimed new media devourer Dean Browell of Richmond, Virginia, discusses online identity.

‘Like it or not,’ he writes, ‘what I get in search is your brand. What shows up when I look for your store on Google Maps (like that bad review from 2008) makes up your identity for me.’

So we are all our own ‘brand managers’. But it needn’t be serious. Because if you have the time to have a job, take regular exercise, blog, tweet, upload something you made earlier, check your LinkedIn and Facebook and still have real friends, why not spend a couple of minutes for a flight of fantasy too? Create a new identity. Go on. Take a trip right back to the beginning of your timeline. Remember when you were a kid? Remember role play? You can still do that.

It’s not so weird. Grown-ups living out identity fantasy are fairly common. Look at Mr Dotcom (admittedly now behind bars for copyright infringement and racketeering but the cash was fun while it lasted). Or larger-than-life Katie Price. Or the all-singing sequinned product that is Lady Gaga. Yes, you too could have over 18 million Twitter followers!**

When you consider the overwhelming urge people have for constant snapping, blogging and commenting, I wonder what it is that has made us share our secret diaries so readily. The inspiration of the instant celebrity? A digital age of conspicuous consumerism? Or a victory of the here-and-now over religious belief? Maybe our world is too noisy for quiet reflection? Perhaps this craving to reaffirm our existence serves only to admit that, actually, we live in fear that someone might just hit ‘delete’.

But the internet isn’t all vanity. It’s a celebration of life. Emails and social networks can spread joy, nurture friendships, build businesses and local community. Facebook? One big scrapbook. Blogs? Frustrated novelists. Twitter? We’re all just kids in the playground.

Back to

* Dean Browell, The Wall, 31.1.12
**Lady Gaga, Digital Spy, 16.1.12

Mr Dotcom, BBC World