There’s a computer science course on the South Coast that’s teaching kids how to develop computer programs, which is known as coding. These children are attending a weekly class at a local library to become code-savvy.
This is the Coding Club which brings young people to Santa Barbara Central Library’s Tech Lab. These kids are having fun, but they’re also learning skills that can turn them into the next generation of computer programmers.
“I was just looking for some afterschool classes to do. I think coding is really cool, and I wanted to learn more about it,” says 10-year-old Zoe Allen.
She says she enjoys these coding classes.
“I feel like it’s awesome because the only limit is your imagination. It’s the only thing that stops you from doing it,” she says.
Allen is paired with nine-year-old Elle Terzian as they design their own video game.
Terzian says she likes that coding gives her the freedom to create anything she wants.
“I don’t like it when I’m restricted. I think it’s because I like to go wild,” she says.
In addition to sparking the kids’ creativity, this coding club teaches them computational logic.
The instructor, Leon Yen, explains an algorithm they’ll need to use to design their video games.
He says these logic skills can be applied to careers beyond computer science, and that’s why this course is so valuable.
“The most important this is to just give them a positive idea. Not be afraid of computer science. Not to think of computers as magic boxes basically. The idea is that we want them to have a good impression of this stuff so when they go off it doesn’t actually matter if they go into these fields, it’s just that they’ll be able to better utilize computer stuff in whatever they do in their normal lives,” Yen says.
Santa Barbara Public Library is one of only 28 libraries across the country selected for a $12,000 Libraries Ready to Code grant from the American Library Association.
Digital Services Librarian Cassidy Charles says the Coding Club is just the beginning. The grant money will be used to implement even more coding programs for young people.
“People think the library is all about books. And the library is about learning. And that’s what we’re really trying to do is expand learning opportunities for the youth in computer science,” she says.
Eleven-year-old Ty Kangas says it can sometimes be a difficult learning process.
“We have to find out how to do everything. And we’re trying to do that right now,” he says.
That’s how Terzian says she overcomes coding challenges.
“Usually just by experimenting a whole bunch of times. You just have to keep trying,” she says.
And that’s a lesson in and of itself.
I asked her father, Jim Terzian, if he thinks his daughter will pursue a computer programming career.
“I don’t know. She’s only nine. It’s a long way to go. But I know that computer science will be part of her life whether it’s her career or not. Right now, for her, it’s just fun,” he says.
The Coding Club is a free program geared for children ages nine through 17. It meets every Wednesday from 4 to 5:30 pm at the Santa Barbara Central Library.