Parents urged to sign up kids for free coding festival in Birmingham

  • Nearly 70 centres across the UK hosting week-long event during the summer holidays

  • Weekend festival in Birmingham to welcome nearly 2,000 young coders

    The Festival of Code, a free national event for all aspiring tech superstars, is taking place once again in 2015 (27 July – 2 August).

    During the week, thousands of young coders aged from five to 18 will be using open data to build digital prototypes at nearly 70 centres across the UK, assisted by over 250 industry volunteers. The centres are run by a variety of organisations – from schools and universities to tech start-ups, charities and larger companies – and include Barclays, Comic Relief, Salesforce and even London Zoo.

    All participants across the country will then descend on the International Convention Centre in Birmingham to present what they’ve made during a weekend showcase. Up to 2,000 children will be taking part in the final two days of the Festival. Over the weekend, participants will also stretch their skills by taking on different programming challenges, experimenting with hardware and discovering with new technologies.

    Ruth Nicholls, Managing Director of Young Rewired State, the youth organisation that runs the Festival of Code, said:

    With computer programming now part of the national curriculum, the Festival of Code is set to be bigger than ever. We want kids of all ages, who enjoy being creative with technology, to take part. Once a year our Festival brings together children from all parts of the UK to meet up, make new friends and create exciting new web and mobile apps. The week is a first taste of what it’s like to work in technology, and inspires many of the young people in our community to continue developing their skills and become entrepreneurs or developers.
    This year’s Festival of Code weekend showcase is coming to Birmingham for the third time. The city is easy to access for our centres across all parts of the UK, and its growing digital media cluster means that we have plenty of local experts to assist the young people taking part.”

    One previous participant, Zac Cutner, is 16 and from London. He first attended the Festival of Code in 2013, at the Custard Factory in Birmingham, after wanting to learn how the programmes he used every day actually work. Zac is now perfecting an update of the app he started at last year’s festival with friend Freddie Poser. Zac and Freddie created Votr to engage young people with the General Election, using open-source data from Twitter. Dubbed ‘the tinder for politics’, Votr allows users to swipe ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ on anonymised tweets from politicians, to discover their own political leanings without party bias.

    Zac added:

    Coding has become my real passion and I’m excited to see where it can take me. It’s possibly something I would pursue for a career but either way, I’m confident that the skills I’ve learnt will help me unlock new opportunities with whatever I choose to do.”

    Another Festival participant who is continuing to develop her prototype is 12 year-old Tyriah Allison from Oxfordshire. Her app helps young people to brush their teeth effectively and she’s even had an interactive toothbrush stand 3D printed to accompany the app. Tyriah is also helping other young people in her community learn to code by setting up her own ‘Coder Dojo’ coding club for young learners.

    Arts organisation Beatfreeks, which is based in Birmingham, will be hosting one of the Festival of Code centres based across the UK. Its Head of Digital Media, Paul Stringer, is acting as a mentor.

    He said:

    The Festival of Code is an incredible opportunity for young coders to get involved with a wider network of people and to explore the vast expanse of knowledge in a fantastic setting. As a second time centre, we love that its fits directly with our ethos of creating a better world, watching young people come together to explore different issues and challenge them with creativity and code is an absolute inspiration in itself."

    After successfully hosting a remote centre in Kosovo during the 2015 Festival, Young Rewired State is also hosting three international centres in Switzerland, Kosovo and New York City. Additionally, participants from the USA, Germany, Norway, Spain and Argentina will be flying in for the week to take part in a residential centre in Birmingham. This will enable young coders in the UK to collaborate and share skills with their peers overseas, and gain an understanding of how digital technologies can solve community problems around the world.

    The Festival of Code 2015 is supported by national sponsors including SAP, Monster Recruitment, Salesforce, the Met Office and Capital One. Young Rewired State is also one of 37 organisations to receive a 2015 Google RISE (Roots in Science and Engineering) Award to run an access scheme alongside the 2015 Festival of Code. The programme – aimed at encouraging under-represented groups in computer science, particularly girls and children from low-income families – can support with costs such as travelling to and from the Festival weekend in Birmingham.

    For more information or to sign up, visit festival.yrs.io. Follow Festival of Code on Twitter using #FoC2015.

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