Nfld. & Labrador

How did you spend your summer vacation? These Corner Brook kids learned code

Code is the language of computers, and these kids are quickly becoming fluent, which could give them a leg up when it comes to eventually choosing a career.

'There's probably 1,500 coding jobs that can't be filled in Newfoundland and Labrador'

Corner Brook girls experiment with 'Cubelets', which are robotic blocks that can be configured in different shapes and sizes. (Submitted by Rebecca Milley)

It took just six minutes for all 15 slots at the latest coding camp at Grenfell to fill up. 

For the past four years, Memorial University's Corner Brook campus has been offering workshops for preteens and teens who want to learn to code. The most recent was a two-day session for participants ages 11 to 14. 

"In the last few years there's been a lot of excitement in the community about coding," said instructor Rebecca Milley, an assistant professor of computational mathematics. 

"And it's great because underneath it all, there is a lot of math."

Code is the language computers, smartphones and software speak. It's used to build websites, games, apps and robotics. For kids who've grown up in a digital world, learning to code can be a fun hobby, but it can also become a career. 

We're trying to develop this skill in kids, not to make everyone a coder, but to make those kids who are really interested in this, know that this is a viable career for them.- John Barron

"There's probably 1,500 coding jobs that can't be filled in Newfoundland and Labrador," said John Barron, the provincial coordinator with Brilliant Labs, a non-profit that exposes Atlantic Canadian children to tech. 

"Coding is going to be the next big skilled trade."

Brilliant Labs offered workshops during the latest camp at Grenfell. Barron said the group aims to encourage kids to get acquainted with tech, because there will be job opportunities in that field when they grow up. 

"We're trying to develop this skill in kids, not to make everyone a coder, but to make those kids who are really interested in this, know that this is a viable career for them." 

Most of the campers in Corner Brook are about 12 years old, Milley said. They're not terribly interested in career choices, but they are interested in video games. 

Last week, the kids made their own video games. 

"I don't even know if the kids realized at the outset that they're actually learning a lot of skills as they build those video games, but that's what they're interested in." 

After a girls-only camp in July, Milley says there was a demand for more. The 15 spots available in a two-day workshop for all children filled up in six minutes. (Submitted by Rebecca Milley)

Coding-camper Ethan Greene, 11, explained that he has a family connection to the industry. His dad works in IT.

"My dad introduced me to computers, probably when I was like, five," he said. 

Why does he like it? Ethan said coding gives him a chance to be creative and use his imagination.

"I can actually create something that the world could enjoy."

Read more stories from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Troy Turner

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