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Community Notebook: Palo Alto teens organize coding event

Aug. 2 event to expose different demographics of Bay Area youth to the world of tech

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.

Comments

90 people like this
Posted by pacsailor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2015 at 11:22 am

This is awesome idea. Kudos to the teenagers who are organizing this event. I hope they can get the word out to a lot of teens who would make use of and enjoy this event.


18 people like this
Posted by The Rock
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2015 at 11:39 am

Take it from an old hand, coding is VERY tedious work. Most teens won't like that sedentary aspect of it.

It would be a very rare, patient teen indeed who can settle down and attend to computer languages and coding.

Most people don't discover a talent for it until they have settled into their mid-to-late twenties.


24 people like this
Posted by Wondering
a resident of another community
on Jul 23, 2015 at 1:02 pm

Is this truly the students' idea or something cooked up by a college admissions' coach. Sorry, but these days you always have to wonder.


24 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2015 at 1:11 pm

Resume building.

Unless there's a goal, coding isn't very exciting. Computers are very stupid and very literal.


12 people like this
Posted by Tony
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 24, 2015 at 2:42 am

Sure enough - schools about to start and Tiger moms are rising again...
"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.

Also, a lot of parents feel that living in this area has already exposed their kids to tech in such "a large way" that it is smothering them.
They feel their kids have already spent way too much time spent in front of computer screens.
It's no longer interesting since they have been exposed to computers since elementary school.

A lot of kids rather be outside playing and passively exploring the environment and nature (rather than code).

"We thought it would be a really good idea to expose teens to computer science in a large way," she added.

To each his own I guess


8 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2015 at 7:37 am

I think that when kids get back to school and start asking each other what they have done during the summer, there will be a lot of envy for those who say they went to the beach, went camping, saw movies, went swimming, grilled hotdogs at the park, made Smores in the backyard, etc. etc. Summer is for making memories with buddies.

There's still a few weeks left. Let the kids have some fun.


39 people like this
Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jul 25, 2015 at 12:30 pm

I think this is a terrific idea and am so impressed with these students. To those who disagree, then just don’t let your kids go! Why you feel the need to put down these innovative children is beyond me. Shame on you.

I was also a computer programmer years ago but I never pushed it on my son. But thanks to Josh Paley, who is an awesome teacher at Gunn, my son developed his own interest. He also goes swimming, travelling, to baseball games, etc in the summer, but if a child enjoys this too then what’s wrong with doing both?

Kudos to these kids!


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