Calling all teens interested in coding: Two Palo Alto High School students are organizing a free computer programming event on Sunday, Aug. 2, with the goal of exposing different demographics of Bay Area youth to the world of tech.
Paly senior Kelsey Wang and junior Alice Zhang came up with the idea for Teens Exploring Code while reflecting on their own computer-science education experience. Both said they were encouraged and influenced by friends and family to take the available computer science classes at Paly. Wang's mother works for a software company, while Zhang's mother works in finance and her father in nuclear physics.
They also noticed that their computer science classes skewed toward certain demographics, and there were far more boys than girls.
"They weren't very diverse classes -- the gender gap of course and also different ethnicities were not really represented in the class," Wang said.
"We thought it would be a really good idea to expose teens to computer science in a large way," she added.
So they developed the concept of Teens Exploring Code, which will feature several guest speakers from local tech companies and three coding workshops led by either current or graduated computer science majors.
The entire line-up of speakers is still in flux, but so far includes a product quality engineer and embedded analyst from Palo Alto tech company Palantir; the co-founder of Palo Alto-based Chobolabs, which aims to bring competitive gaming to mobile devices; a Dropbox software engineer; the founder of Clothia, an online shopping startup; and an engineer from Piazza, an online educational interface for students and instructors.
The workshops are designed to give a basic introduction to various programming languages and to "at least inspire beginners to look more into computer science if they enjoy it," Zhang said.
Since different programming languages will be taught, the two Paly organizers hope even teens who already know some coding might come to learn another language.
The free event is being paid for by the City of Palo Alto's Bryant Street Garage Fund, money set aside to support teens' ideas for new programs, activities and/or events in the community. (The fund also supports clickPA, MakeX, the Teen Arts Council, Project Enybody and Financial Literacy for Youth.)
Teens Exploring Code will run be 1-5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 2, at the Mitchell Park Community Center, 3700 Middlefield Road. Teens (ages 13 to 19) may come whenever throughout the day and sign up for as many of the speaker sessions as they'd like. Space in the workshops, however, is limited to 20 people each, so teens must sign up beforehand online.
For more information and to sign up, go to teensexploringcode.wordpress.com.