“If you want to use the music from Frozen in your game, do you know how to download a gif to match?” Not the average question I have heard in a conference room at Cisco headquarters in San Jose, California, especially when asked to 7-year-old girls! The girls were part of a group of 14 children participating in a coding camp held at Cisco and put on by Embark Labs. The goal of the event is to teach 7 to 10 year olds to have fun while learning how to program.
Embark Labs founder Jessie Arora previously worked at Citizen Schools, a Cisco corporate social responsibility partner. A mother of two young children, she wanted to create an experience where students could learn technology skills along with other important work skills like problem solving, creativity, and collaboration. Cisco Community Relations supports local community organizations and provided the space where the students could learn to code.
Cisco has long been dedicated to increasing access to STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math) around the world and helping tomorrow’s workers develop the IT skills needed for the digital workplace. We do that by training 1 million people each year through the Cisco Networking Academy program, by providing cash and product grants to community organizations, and by encouraging our employees to volunteer and mentor young people. Cisco also sponsors annual Girls in ICT events around the world.
I was impressed with how engaged and excited the children were to learn. They clearly had never run across the concept that math and computer science could be hard and were instead learning by having fun. I lingered thinking it would be fun to know how to code an animated story. I am considering dropping by the camp again tomorrow and seeing if the 10 year olds will let me join them in learning, if I promise not to slow them down.