Humans of First Code: Sarah Yu
“Computer Science is a subject which can open many doors for students in Hong Kong, that is why I care so deeply about this project. This initiative allows an interconnectivity and improved sharing in the community as it encourages the growth of computer literacy at all levels. ”
My Journey in Learning to Code
I was born in Hong Kong, but most of my childhood wasn’t spent here. I spent the majority of my childhood in Madagascar. Access to technology and computer education was scarce. My parents were always worried that I would fall behind in that regard once I returned to Hong Kong. That’s why they, as technology lovers, placed a great importance on computer literacy in our household. Personally, I’ve always loved video games and technology, and I’ve known for a few years now that I wanted to do something in that area as a career.
Last September, I learned to code for the first time during my first lesson at First Code Academy. I used the blocks-based programming language AppInventor, which was created by MIT. After that 2 hour class I went back home and made my first app, a Star Wars soundboard.
Ever since then I have been hooked. So hooked in fact that I have decided to make it my career! I will be attending the University of Toronto in September to study computer science. It is the combination of all these things that have lead me to where I am and where I will be.
Beyond Learning to Code
Now you must be wondering, “Why is this blogger telling me her life story and what does she have to do with all of this?”.
This Winter, I was nominated by my coding instructor to join an initiative to train teachers and student leaders on the basics of programming. I was thrilled to be able to share my story and my perspective on on why young people should learn how to code.
Being able to code has opened countless doors for me and my future; hopefully my story serves to inspire people to become the advocates and organisers of CS First in Hong Kong.
What is CS First?
This initiative is called CS First, created by Google to further integrate computer science, a currently underrepresented subject, into mainstream education all over the world. This year Google Hong Kong joined hands with First Code Academy, and Kids4Kids, a non profit organization in Hong Kong, and launched this initiative to raise awareness about the program in both local and international schools in Hong Kong.
The main appeal of the platform is that it is completely free. All materials required for the curriculum are provided on their website (www.cs-first.com) in the form of 9 themed units to attract students of varied interests. CS First uses video tutorials to help students create projects on Scratch, a block based coding program aimed towards kids created by MIT in 2005.
While CS First has been incredibly successful in North America, and Europe, this initiative is the first of its kind in Asia.
A Coding Guru Experience
The kick off sessions, which took place on the 19th and 21st of February, were successful with much collaboration taking place as the plans for the next year were discussed.
Working as a Coding Guru has been an amazing experience. So far, after two 3 hour sessions, I have shared my passion for coding with many others who didn’t know how easy it is to code. Participants learnt to use the platform to create a program in Scratch. As a coding guru, I did my best to explain the more technical aspects, not only the how but the why. One student who had never learnt how to code before the session told me after completing the session that she already loved it! It was really great to see how proud she was of what she had made and I could see that it was the same exact feeling I had when I made my first app. Sharing that feeling with everyone there was, for me, the best part of the sessions.
The reality is, anyone can code and to me, CS First really reflects that. Computer Science is a subject which can open many doors for students in Hong Kong, that is why I care so deeply about this project. This initiative allows an interconnectivity and improved sharing in the community as it encourages the growth of computer literacy at all levels.
Future plans for CS First mean that students will have the chance to learn more advanced computer skills in a fun and interesting way, which will enhance their enjoyment and knowledge of computers and coding.