CodeNgwana brings Kids Hack Day to SA

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Non-profit global children's initiative Kids Hack Day has partnered with local coding organisation CodeNgwana to bring its children's hackathon to SA.

Established in 2013 by former TEDxStockholm organiser, Carl B"arstad, Kids Hack Day is a series of free tech events for children hosted in various parts of the globe, including Costa Rica, Netherlands, Brazil, US and Sweden.

During the one-day event, children and adults come together to "hack" and make new uses of everyday items and new technologies with the aim to close the gap between education and technological creativity.

CodeNgwana was launched in 2018 to create a culture that encourages children to play with technology and learn problem-solving skills, through its partnership with schools.

The local Kids Hack Day will take place in Johannesburg on 16 June, with the intention to bring it to other parts of SA in future.

"It was important to bring the Hack Day to SA to expose children to technology and to redefine how kids engage with the latest innovations. There are not enough formal programmes or events that aim to teach children tech-related skills," says Noluvuyo Mpekelana, founder and MD of CodeNgwana.

"On Youth Day, children of all ages will be given tools and materials such as recycled material, straws, cardboards and motors to spark their creativity and build robots."

All Kids Hack Days are centred on QuirkbotRobot Kit, a beginner's microcontroller board which can be programmed using graphical blocks or an open source electronic prototyping platform in a Web browser.

The tool allows children to come up with inventions to tell their own story in an innovative way and learn IT skills in the process.

"We are expecting around 130 kids coming from Soweto, Jeppestown and around Sandton on the day. The idea is to create digital inclusion irrespective of the youngster's background. Apart from Quirkbot, there will be various other coding and robotics kits which are supplied by Kids Hack Day. There will be various tech activities for kids to engage in which will be facilitated by CodeNgwana team members, volunteers and partners."

CodeNgwana recently established a partnership with Streetlight Schools, a Johannesburg-based educational initiative that aims to achieve international benchmarks in literacy learning which is two years ahead of the South African curriculum standards.

Streetlight Schools will use CodeNgwana's services to introduce coding into partner schools, starting with grade four learners next term.

"The main challenge we have in the education system is the lack of teachers who have interest or knowledge of code. Some teachers are more focused on traditional subjects and are often not ready to make the digital transition which ends up delaying learners. This partnership will help bring digital inclusion, allowing kids and teachers access to technology and coding skills.

"We want to go beyond just teaching pupils the fundamentals of coding, but encourage them to get really technical, thus creating a dynamic future workforce that is adequately skilled for careers of the fourth industrial revolution," concludes Mpekelana.

For information on free Kids Hack Day tickets, visit the CodeNgwana Web site.

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