Junior techies get head start

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 137 views 

Technology touches everything and continually shapes the world in which we live. And who better to drive the technology revolution into the future, than the children of today.

Sarah Daigle Scott, a self-professed techie by trade, is doing more than her part to give local kids a jumpstart in the world of codes, program applications, web design and graphic art. This summer Scott launched the Tech Adventure Club, a three week boot camp of sorts for kids between the ages of 7 and 14.

A freelance programmer by trade, Scott is ambitious about teaching these kids that technology is not just for consumption, but also about creation.

The first club will wrap up Friday (June 22) and a second club is set to begin July 9. In the first session Scott had between 19 and 13 students each morning for a three-week period. The camp runs from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Monday through Friday at the Fayetteville Athletic Club.

“The first session filled up in a couple of days after posting on Facebook and Twitter. There has been good demand for the second session as well,” Scott said.

Julian Sanker, a third grade student, said he learned to create a his own website using HTML programming. Wednesday, he and the rest of the class created a game as they learned and applied basic programing in Python — a high-level programming language.

Gage Lane, another 10-year-old camper, said his favorite part of the class involved graphic design and photo editing with Gimp, a GNU image manipulation platform. Willow Arhens, 12, was one of only two girls in the class, but that didn’t bother her in the least. Pared with Cody Cassat and Nicholas Soderquist also 12, she said the camp allowed her create her own website of favorite things.

“It has been great to see some of these kids catch on so quickly. They have been attentive and eager to talk with their laptops while also learning some great basics on which they can build,” Scott said.

She and Bethany Stephens recently entered the concept in the Arkansas Challenge, in hopes of being one of the 15 teams to get invited to that boot camp for start-ups.

There are 83 teams vying for 15 spots in the Arkansas Challenge. Each of those 15 start-up concept teams will get $18,000 in seed money and six weeks of training to try and make their venture into a viable business.i

“We want to take this program farther, there is no reason why all kids should not get this exposure. We are thinking afterschool programs and maybe at some point full integration into elementary school curriculum,” Stephens said.

The two camps this summer are pilots for what Scott and Stephens hope is a budding business for the future.

Scott envisions a program that allows kids to test and move ahead at their own speed, earning badges and they progress from one level to the next.

“I think about how this type of exposure to technology could change the entire economic outlook for some areas of the state. We know what few children’s technology programs that do exist are found in areas near Silicon Valley and MIT,” Stephens said.

Scott says the earlier someone can become fluent in programming languages the more time and opportunities they will have for innovation.