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Kainos CodeCamp kicks off two-week course for students

All tickets claimed in two hours as 11-14 year olds jump at the chance for free coding training

CodeCamp has kicked off for the third summer to boost the computer skills of young people. Run by Kainos, the free, Belfast-based course is open to for students aged between 11 and 14.

With space for only 80 participants, all tickets for this year’s camp were snapped up in just two hours, having received 300 applications.

Kainos’s CodeCamp, which runs for two weeks, is supported by Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast City Council and South Belfast Partnership.

Aimed at students studying science, technology, education and maths (Stem) subjects, the camp is designed to introduce young people to computer programming and to further improve technical skills. 

Software developers and mentors from Kainos, Queen’s University Belfast and Liberty IT provide training and deliver workshops covering technologies such as Android, iOS and Raspberry Pi. Students learn different coding techniques to help them design and build their own apps.

This will be the first year that students will learn to program with a Raspberry Pi, which are also being offered as prizes, alongside Nexus tablets and an Apple Watch.

Gemma Crothers, technology outreach manager at Kainos, said CodeCamp’s main goal is to inspire young people to become creators of technology, rather than just consumers of it. 

“They know how to use the latest technology, but they don’t understand the role they could have in building it. Our main aim is to give the participants a passion for building applications and enable them to use the latest technical tools available to them,” she said.

Phil Hanna, director of education in the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology at Queen’s University Belfast, described the camp as a “brilliant way to inspire the next generation of technical professionals”. 

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“Students can gain a better understanding of app development and different types of coding, along with working in a professional environment,” he said.

Briege Arthurs, CEO of South Belfast Partnership Board, said it was encouraging to see so many children give up two weeks of their summer break to develop their technical knowledge and understanding.

“These young people are the future of the workforce in Northern Ireland, and it’s our responsibility to ensure that the workforce of the future is trained in best practice and kept up to date with the latest technological advancements,” said Arthurs.

Deirdre Hargey, chair of the city growth and regeneration committee at Belfast City Council, said it is committed to supporting the development of the creative industries in Belfast, and a key focus has been on growing the digital media and technology sectors.

“With companies like Kainos involving the next generation in programmes like CodeCamp, we are ensuring the continuing development of our city, our people and our knowledge economy. I wish all the participants in CodeCamp every success over the next fortnight and in their future careers.”

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Having a child in this age group, I think this is a terrific initiative and would love to see more opportunities like this arise, especially to be offered to areas that might not normally receive these types of programs.

“They know how to use the latest technology, but they don’t understand the role they could have in building it. Our main aim is to give the participants a passion for building applications and enable them to use the latest technical tools available to them,”

This is a good goal, but additionally, it's important to give kids authentic problems to solve and work on. What would they like to see in an app, a game, a tool? How could they go about making that next step? It doesn't need to be as elaborate as making a game from scratch. Sometimes simple wins like how to get a system to respond more rapidly, or save some steps they do repetitively, can really help young coders get to the net level (it works pretty well for older coders, too :) ). 
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