Kids Build Com­puter Pro­gram­ming Skills for Christ­mas

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

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 around the world, in­clud­ing in Saint Lu­cia. 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, de­cided to host the is­land's first Christ­mas Cod­ing Camp.

The five-day camp got un­der­way on Mon­day, De­cem­ber 17, 2018 at one of the In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy (IT) lab­o­ra­to­ries at St Mary's Col­lege. Some 16 young peo­ple, aged 10 to 15, took part. They 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.

He said, "In­ter­ven­tions 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."

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.

Said Jonathan: "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 hope­fully we can scale up all across the is­land."

Other fa­cil­i­ta­tors for the five-day 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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