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Africa Code Week comes to town
The inaugural Africa Code Week will take place from 1 October to 10 Octber, during which the Cape Town Science Centre will host a variety of free coding workshops. The transfer of skills will include the free Scratch coding workshops for children aged between 8 and 12 and Whatsapp “clone” workshops for 18 to 24 year olds.
“As part of the Africa Code Week initiative, the Cape Town Science Centre has set an ambitious target of training 1,500 children to code during the upcoming October school holidays. Children will be trained using Scratch, which is a freely available software application that is fast, fun and an easy way to get started in computer science. Specialist volunteers from SAP offices across the globe are helping to make this possible by joining the team at the Centre to train children,” says Julie Cleverdon, director of the Science Centre in Cape Town. “Individuals, families, schools, NPO’s and organisations working with children and youth are urged to take up this opportunity and make a booking in order to enrich the lives of young children.”
With the recent launch of the Western Cape’s e-Strategy, MEC for Education in the Province Debbie Schäfer has come on board as a Patron of Africa Code Week and says: “ICT is no longer part of our future – it is our present. In education, it is our responsibility to equip our children to be active citizens in our economy, and provide much-needed skills. There is a great need in South Africa for IT professionals. Africa Code Week assists in promoting this as a possible future career for our learners. It also promotes issues such as critical thinking, problem solving and teamwork, all of which are crucial for success in life. I am thus very pleased and honoured to be the Patron of Africa Code Week in Cape Town and hope that many of our learners will take part in it.”
Software is often where risk mitigation and problem fixing happens in most environments. Coding is taking big problems and breaking them up into small tractable chunks. Dr Carolina Ödman-Govender, chief scientist at Thumbzup Innovations and the South African ambassador for Africa Code week adds: “Coding is intellectually stimulating. Whatever the endpoint you are trying to reach, coding takes the destination and builds a journey, step by step. And each step is a little achievement on its own, a little problem solved. And for each little problem solved comes that fix of satisfaction which is what makes computer games so addictive. With coding, one is always learning new things, new technologies, new environments and new ways of solving problems.”
In addition to the Cape Town Science Centre’s efforts, other Cape Town organisations have embraced the initiative and are set to create a ‘coding buzz’ by organising a host of coding activities across the city. Those interested in attending these activities can visit the Africa Code Week website and specifically the ‘live’ Map, which plots the events taking place in Cape Town, and indeed across Africa.
Thursday 1 October to Saturday 10 October: Free Scratch Coding Workshops, for children aged between 8 and 12
There will be five one-hour workshops per day which will introduce children to the joys of creative computing using the popular MIT Scratch interface. The Scratch software application is freely available and makes it easy to create interactive stories, animations, games, music and art. The software also allows the option to share these creations on the Web. Scratch is used worldwide by teachers to teach the basics of computer programming and as young people create and share Scratch projects (over 10-million to date), they learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively.
Saturday 3 October and Sunday 4 October: Free build/ code your own Whatsapp, for youth aged between 18 and 24 years
There will be two workshops per day amounting to 2two-and-a-half hours each which will build on learners’ existing knowledge of Web technologies, which provides a great skill set for mastering other application frameworks. Students will learn how to build a Whatsapp “clone”, a simple messaging app that can be used on a mobile device, through the following core features: messaging and group messaging, notifications and user accounts.
Thursday 1 October: Free on-line courses
There will be two free courses available on-line and are divided into two age groups:
* Teaching Programming to Young Learners is aimed at teachers, parents, and guardians of children aged 8-11 to enable adults to support children during their coding journey.
* Teens Get Coding is aimed at 12-17 year olds who want to get started with coding in a fun and interactive system, including creating interactive computer games.
Saturday 3 October and Saturday 10 October: Festival of Code
Entry fee R5 or 5 empty cans, with exciting activities planned for both days:
* Meet Charles Babbage (father of the computer) and Ada Lovelace (evidently the first coder) for tea.
* Speed-date a coder.
* Hear personal stories of success first hand from young award winning App developers.
* Get introduced to KANO.