Kids build computer programming skills for Christmas

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Kids build computer programming skills for Christmas
Participants at the coding camp in December 2018.

(PRESS RELEASE) — In order to give a group of young students from Saint Lucia a leg up on the competition, Writing Legends, in tandem with Flow and the Curriculum and Materials Development Unit (CAMDU) in the Ministry of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations, and Sustainable Development hosted the island’s first Christmas Coding Camp.

The five-day camp got underway on Monday, December 17th 2018, at one of the Information Technology (IT) laboratories at St. Mary’s College. 16 young people, aged 10 to 15, took part and were introduced to the rudiments of programme design, computer programming, datatypes, variables, conditional logic, memory management, and the basics of app development for fixed and mobile devices. Additionally, the youngsters were exposed to careers and opportunities in Information and Communications Technology, in a session led by Flow IT Director, Tim Dantzie.

“Intervention like this are absolutely essential if we want our young people in Saint Lucia and the wider Caribbean to play major roles in the emerging global economy. We at Flow are delighted to be able to play our role in the growth and development of these future coders and software engineers, as they transition from being passive users of the technology, and really begin to gain an appreciation for how their devices work, and how they can build programmes of their own. It’s really exciting to see how eager they are, because that passion could be the keystone to their future careers,” explained Tim.

You are more than likely reading this on your desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or even smartphone, using software developed by a team of talented and inventive engineers. That field of work is opening up for young people from around the world, including Saint Lucia

Jonathan Charlery of Writing Legends was one of the principal instructors for the camp, which he is hopeful of spreading to the rest of the island. An alumnus of St Mary’s College, and a senior software engineer with Bloomberg, he has already been in talks with the Government of Saint Lucia, through CAMDU, with a view to expanding the scope of the camp to encompass hundreds of potential coders.

“This has been a great experience for these kids. They are asking questions, they are really into it, and that’s the first step. Flow has been helping a lot. They gave us the resources we need for this. They gave a lot of swag for the kids: bags, pencil cases, water bottles and so on. CAMDU, and the Ministry of Education by extension, has been helping. They reviewed the curriculum, and it matched one of the initiatives they had already been looking into, so we are using this sort of as a pilot programme. If this all takes off, then is it hopefully, we can scale up all across the island,” Said Jonathan.

Other facilitators for the weeklong camp included Choiseul native Christy Butcher of Writing Legends, and CAMDU representative, Germain Anthony, Curriculum Specialist for Technology Integration in the Ministry of Education.

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