Learning coding is like learning a new language, the language of computers. Being able to code, means being able to create software, apps and websites with ease.
There is currently a great deal of research on the impact of technology in our lives and how we should prepare children for a changing world. It’s an inevitable part of our daily schedules and almost impossible to avoid, so why not encourage kids to code, which is something everybody agrees is an essential skill for the future.
Many educational experts would like to see coding introduced into the school curriculum as a main subject. Until this becomes a reality in Luxembourg, children have the opportunity to learn how to code with the support of different organizations and initiatives.
Workshop4Me asbl was founded by Madhumalti Sharma, a tech enthusiast, and her son Atreyam (Leo). Madhumalti is mum of a pre-teen and teen who already know more about computer science and coding/programming than you do! The children spend their weekends sharing their joy of coding in order to move kids from being “consumers to creators” using technology.
Among other achievements, Leo was recently selected as a speaker at the recent TEDx Luxembourg City event. Avanti was nominated as ‘Rising Star of the Year’ at Technology Playmaker awards and invited to attend the event in London with other inspiring women in technology. What an inspiration for younger children!
Courses are held in Kirchberg and the main language is English. You can contact Workshop4Me via their website, Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram. Also good to know, kids can start courses as early as 6 years old!
2. Codeclub.lu and Coder Dojo
Code Club offers coding classes for kids 7-11 years old at various locations across Luxembourg. Coder Dojo, run by Code Club, provides coding session for kids above 12 years. These lessons take place at Level 2 hackerspace, which is run by Syn2cat asbl (more about the place and the organisation follows).
In terms of human languages, Code Club mentors speak all they typical languages of Luxembourg – so Luxembourgish, German, French and English are always on offer. In some cases mentors speak additional languages including Greek or Portuguese.
In terms of computer languages there is also a variety: Code Club sessions are on Scratch, or with Kniwwelino, which is similar but has recently been developed by Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) and is widely promoted by the makerspaces (Base 1).
Coder Dojo sessions use Scratch for beginners and with the youngest, Python, html/css, R or even C, depending on the project. Coder Dojo sessions are really different. While Code Club sessions for younger kids are more structured, with a teacher explaining things and giving tasks, Coder Dojo more free and hence, more creative.
Once kids get started and have a basic understanding, they are invited to choose their own project to work on (Arduino (which may also involve soldering and other electronics), Raspberry Pi, Robotics, Wearables (LED accessories), app development, programme development, 3D printing etc.), identify the necessary skills and get to work!
This means that in the workshops for older kids every attendee may be working on a different project. The mentors are present but they do not teach; they are there to offer support, answer questions and assist whenever there is a need.
Coder Dojo is every Thursday from 6pm-8pm. Code Club sessions are usually after working hours, as most mentors have day jobs and volunteer their time.
You can also find the following coding initiatives for adults:
3. Syn2cat asbl
Syn2cat is the non-profit organisation running the hackerspace. You can find more information on what a hackerspace is on their website.
At the hackerspace there are no coding lessons but instead self-driven people who are willing to learn to code. Anyone with an interest is welcome and support is available if needed.
Syn2cat asbl has “Open Tuesday” at a place called Level2 when mostly non-members are invited to come and explore the space. This is the perfect time to ask for advice or help with a project, including learning to code. Members also try to learn coding on their own, often online, for instance on codecademy.com or udemy, and come to discuss what they are learning with those who have experience.
There is also a radio show, Letz hack, made by Syn2cat members, which airs once every 4 weeks at 1pm on Radio ARA when news related to IT, information security, privacy, safe internet, etc are being discussed and also announcing events taking place at the hackerspace.
MICSE has been ‘’built’’ through Geek Girls Carrots Luxembourg a group working to attract women to technology. The main mission of MICSE is to help people acquire digital skills and advance their professional development.
MICSE also organizes Geek Week Luxembourg, which started in June 2015 (at the time organized by Geek Girls Carrots Luxembourg) and will be back in 2018 for it’s 3rd edition.
I asked Marina Stephanova, the co-founder of of MICSE and President of Syn2cat, along with Madhumalti Sharma and Leo, of Workshop4Me, why they think coding is important for the children.
Marina Stephanova: Digital skills are indispensable in today’s world. Without basic digital and media literacy, it would be very difficult to apply critical thinking and for instance distinguish between true and fake facts – something adults need but it is even more important to teach our kids. And coding, in particular, helps kids develop logical and critical thinking, problem solving skills (having to analyse their own code and debug it) as well as teaches them to apply design thinking to various projects so they have a more structured approach.
Madhumalti Sharma and Leo: Learning to code is like learning to think.
We have tried to capture the main resources for learning coding in Luxembourg, but if we’ve missed one please drop us a line so we can add it to our list!
Also a sincere thanks to Madhumalti Sharma and Marina Stephanova for their valuable assistance in the realization of this article.