Coding clubs and robotics competitions are growing across Canada. Two years ago Atlantic Canada integrated the Scratch App – developed by computer scientists at M.I.T. in Boston, MA – in all public schools. Actua Canada, a national organization, is teaching STEM skills to youth, reaching kids from east coast to west coast, Iqaluit and Nunavut.
In June 2015, Jewish Family Services successfully applied for a grant with the United States Embassy Public Affairs Section (PAS) to host a talk with US-based tech educator Jeff Sweeton. PAS grants cover the cost of travel and accommodation for US-based speakers of mutual interest.
Jefferey Sweeton, Founder of Code Create, currently works for the Intel Computer Clubhouse. He is an independent filmmaker at audiodoc.org and a Media and Electronics Instructor at the Center for Talent Development at Northwestern University. Jeff has organized Chicago’s Global Cardboard Challenge and Scratch Day.
“Learning to program is like learning to read and write” explains Jeff. “We have observed the many benefits of play, imagination and constructionist learning on child development through the production of original video, web, game, story and music content including increased self-confidence, communication and collaboration skills.”
Other program justifications for Code 4 Kids include:
- Diversity reports from Silicon Valley companies (Intel, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn,..) reveal that about 2% of the tech workforce is African American or Hispanic. No comparable Canadian data exists.
- Minorities are typically under employed in the Canadian workforce. Immigrant unemployment rates are higher than general population – see hireimmigrants.ca
- Women are underrepresented in tech companies as revealed in recent Silicon Valley diversity reports
- Unpredictable oil and gas revenues, shifting economy to knowledge and innovation-based resources and record profits for tech companies (Intel posted $55 B in revenues last year)