Snacking bits and coding in canapés: Showing kids the world of code

Next Visions
Oct 22, 2019 · 5 min read

Smartphones, tablets, notebooks. Digital services, online services, and apps — all this is part of everyday life for most of us. Every day we read the news on our mobile phones, look up the fastest route, birthday present or sports scores online, keep in touch and maintain relationships, play video games and network with people from all over the world.

Coder dojo at the Porsche Digital Lab in Berlin

What was still a new development for my generation is now a matter of course for children and young people. But not everyone who uses a device on a daily basis and can operate it understands the technology and programming procedures behind it. This is exactly where the mentors of the Coder Dojo come into play: none of us grew up with the new technologies, but most of us have learned to deal with them, leave the consumer perspective and write our own small programs. We are happy to pass this knowledge on to the younger generations by regularly getting involved with the coder dojos in our free time.

Not a martial art, but a programming lesson: about Coder Dojos

Coder Dojos are events for girls and boys between the ages of five and 17 where young people explore the world of coding. The mentors support the Coding Ninjas in their little programming projects. The aim is to provide a simple, fun and collaborative introduction to software solutions, programming languages and hardware.

Hardware pieces at the Porsche Digital Lab

There is no shortage of variety and opportunities for children and young people to get to grips with technology, software and more. The participants create websites, program games, develop small apps, solve logic puzzles and build robots. Special tutorials and online courses of the Coder Dojos provide assistance. The aim is to inspire the children with lasting enthusiasm, to arouse their curiosity and to let them leave the dojo with success.

Coder Dojos at the Porsche Digital Lab: Tech expertise meets digital talents

In May 2018, we held our first Coder Dojo at the Porsche Digital Lab in Berlin and were delighted to find that this format was just right for us. Here, the necessary know-how, infrastructure and technology expertise meets young, interested kids who want to play games, code and experiment. Anyone who has ever been at our office knows that we are all a bit technologically crazy and enjoy doing tinkering.

At the moment we are organizing a Coder Dojo every two weeks at three locations with our colleagues from VW:Digital Lab and the E-Post in Berlin-Friedrichshain (dates can be found here). I gladly take on the role as a mentor and organize the dojo in our lab as a so-called champion. I am supported by the worldwide coder dojo team in the form of materials and instructions to get the kids excited about programming. In the meantime, word has got around in the lab and more and more of my colleagues want to be a mentor as well.

Coding in canapés

For beginners, we offer so-called “Sushi Cards” — so to speak an introduction to coding in small appetizers. These usually contain minor games or tasks around programming languages like Scratch or Python, which can be mastered in a short time. The interests of the children are clearly in the foreground. From programming a small game in Scratch to Android apps and games to controlling a drone via the PC, we have really seen many exciting projects with us. Also an “Arduino & Co.” special was very well received, here we made it possible for the children to enter the IoT world.

Coder Dojos are for kids from five to 17 years

I myself have been working in the Porsche Digital Lab since November 2017 in the areas of IT infrastructure, IT architecture and software development and was already interested in software development at an early stage. What I particularly like about the format of the coder dojos is that, on the one hand, they offer children and young people plenty of scope for creativity and group tasks and, at the same time, promote independent learning and personal interests in the area of technology. Here, everyone can implement a project that he or she feels like working on. In the end, the participants should have fun and celebrate their first successes in the field of programming languages with us.

You never stop learning — not even as a mentor

I really enjoy answering the many questions of the boys and girls about programming, solving small challenges together with them and giving them an understanding of “my world” — and I’m impressed again and again by the projects that the kids are able to set up in such a short time!

But it is not only the children who learn new things from the Coder Dojos — I have also learned to develop smaller apps for Android through my work as a mentor. You never really stop learning.

If you feel like taking your child to one of the events: The next coder dojo at the Porsche Digital Lab in Berlin will take place this Saturday, 26 October. Click here to register (dojos are in German). I’m looking forward to seeing you!

Konstantin Müller, Data Engineer

Konstantin Müller is Data Engineer at the Porsche Digital Lab in Berlin. Follow us on Twitter (Porsche Digital, Next Visions), Instagram (Porsche Digital Lab Berlin, Porsche Digital, Next Visions) and LinkedIn (Porsche Digital Lab Berlin, Porsche Digital) for more.


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