Youngsters with a keen eye for coding are being urged to sign up to a brand new initiative that mentors and encourages them to get the most out of their skills.
Hyperlocal, which begins next month in various centres across the UK, is run by Young Rewired State (YRS), a not-for-profit organisation, whose aim it is to find and foster every young person with a love of coding and a determination to teach themselves the technological skill.
The initiative – sponsored by American Express and supported by a number of local businesses – already has over 30 centres signed up but organisers are calling for more young coders to sign up to ensure they avoid missing out.
The programme was launched at last week’s Festival of Code, an annual celebration of code which gave over 1,000 youngsters across 60 centres just five days to create apps, games and websites using open data to solve real world problems and present them to an elite panel of judges.
Each of the young coders, some as young as six, were challenged to use an array of open data from sources such as The Met Office, Transport for London, Food Standards Agency, Google Maps and the Police among others – letting them combine their coding know-how to create projects and come up with working solutions to the problems that people experience every day.
Winners included an app which connects councils and townspeople and lets users report broken potholes, streetlamps and bus stops, and a personalised tourist app which calculates a holiday plan based on your own interests – each winning for their inventive solutions and unique use of data.
Hyperlocal aims to build on the success of YRS’s annual festival and ensure self-taught coders have the support in place to carry on using their skills with a community of other young programmers and mentors in their local area. For Festival of Code attendees, it is a chance to come back together and continue to build their prototype.
During the monthly sessions, Hyperlocal’s organisers will release new podcasts, videos, ‘how-tos’ and other resources which will each focus around a different phase of a typical project’s lifecycle. These will include user experience, design, marketing and building a viable business plan to help the YRS community expand their skillset and embrace their inner entrepreneur.
Speaking of the programme, YRS Hyperlocal lead Kate McDonald, said: “We’re hugely excited to be launching Hyperlocal throughout the UK. After such a successful Festival of Code, we’ve once again been shown just how vital it is that we continue this mentorship and have that support in place so the kids can continue to build upon their amazing ideas.
Hyperlocal gives our young coders the opportunity to further develop together and continue to share their knowledge – using our resources to create well rounded products to launch into the marketplace. We can’t wait to see what successes come out of the first few months.”
Nicola Mayer from the Yoomee centre in Sheffield which has already signed up to run the programme, said: “After taking a 16 year old, female coder hot out of 2013’s Festival of Code on work experience last summer we were blown away by her can-do attitude and coding abilities for someone so young – so we knew we just had to get involved this year.
This year’s festival really has been one of the high points of our year. The young peoples’ energy, enthusiasm and expectations were incredible, but what's even better is knowing they're a part of something even bigger after the celebrations end. Hyperlocal's such a great idea and the resources it provides will help to get the sessions off to a flying start.
We can’t wait to see them all again to keep them to keep coding and their skills fresh.”
For the majority, technology has become a necessity in everyday life, resulting in a need for a workforce with the ability to code. Coding is needed to create software that provides us with our smart phones, computers, apps, games, household appliances and much more. Young Rewired State believes that if children with a natural desire to code are encouraged to delve into their passion, they will be well-equipped with a set of hugely desirable skills for their future. Since its establishment, Young Rewired State has rapidly grown to be a huge independent global network of children and this year will be its 6th anniversary.
To sign up to the programme or to find out more, visit hyperlocal.youngrewiredstate.org.
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