Palm Beach Tech AssociationPalm Beach Tech Association

Code Palm Beach growing to inspire more kids in tech

on September 30, 2019 / by Nancy Dahlberg ,


You’d be hard-pressed to find many tech initiatives that are more inspired and community-driven than Code Palm Beach.

“Our main goal is to give every student in Palm Beach County the opportunity to experience technology and see if it is something they are interested in. We would like every student to have a basic knowledge of code because in our time it is important to understand the way computers speak and how to talk to them. We are trying our hardest to get to every kid in the county,” explained Madison Cuellar, Administrator of Code Palm Beach.

To accomplish this, the non-profit Code Palm Beach runs free coding events monthly for kids in grades K-12. It partners with the South Florida Science Center, Palm Beach County School District and local libraries, as well as the Palm Beach Tech Association.

It’s powered by more than 50 volunteers.

To introduce the kids to coding, Code Palm Beach brings in tech professionals – from entry level developers to CTOs – to teach and mentor. They come from companies such as NextEra Energy/FPL, Arrow Digital, Dycom, Hello Labs, PGA and others. Through these events, Code Palm Beach creates a positive environment that promotes tech, coding, engineering, and robotics education and leverages readily available curriculum from Code.org and freeCodeCamp.

“All of our volunteers are industry professionals and Palm Beach Tech gives us a good pool to pull from,” Cuellar said.

Code Palm Beach

Code Palm Beach beginner course at STEM Studio in Jupiter.

BRANCHING OUT

Code Palm BeachCode Palm Beach is expanding to reach more kids.

“We started with two locations and now we have six and we are adding an intermediate class and an advanced class,” said Cuellar, who coordinates with the libraries, volunteers and parents to ensure everything is running smoothly. Current locations include the South Florida Science Center, libraries in Royal Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Boca Raton and in West Palm Beach and the STEM Studio in Jupiter.  Each location aims to hold at least one class a month, sometimes more, depending on the volunteer pool.

The volunteer spirit was baked in from Code Palm Beach’s beginnings. In 2016,  George Whitaker and Sean Biganski saw a need and founded CoderDojo Palm Beach, a kids coding club, with a handful of parents in the tech industry. “They said there isn’t enough STEM education and we’re just going to do it,” Cuellar said. Then with the help of the community, it evolved into Code Palm Beach. Biganski and Whitaker have remained active in Code Palm Beach, and are Chair and Treasurer respectively.

Palm Beach Tech came aboard and partnered with the organization in 2018 to bring classes to more even kids.

“Watching Sean & George lead CoderDojo was inspiring,” said Joe Russo, CEO of Palm Beach Tech. “It’s exciting to share the joy of coding with our next generation, and the Palm Beach Tech community has stepped up make this a reality for 100’s of local students.”

 

ADDING INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED CLASSES

Code Palm Beach

Most of the kids Code Palm Beach has helped so far have been in the 6-14 age group. Now the organization is offering more classes and events for intermediate and advanced students.

“Our courses aren’t large classes where everyone follows the same tasks. It is dependent on where you are as a student,” Cuellar explained. “We have students who come in with no experience and more advanced ones. We have different platforms that allow more advanced students to work on what they are comfortable with and volunteers to help move them along.”

Code Palm Beach plans to add a game development course, Cuellar said. “We always have kids who come in and say I want to hack the coolest game. We just want to have whatever kids are interested in and sneak in some education.”

It’s working. More than 650 students have been helped.

“The kids come back. You see them progress, we get a lot of regulars and they are growing a lot. That they are moving through the courses shows that it is working.”

To find out more about Code Palm Beach’s free activities or to volunteer: Visit codepalmbeach.org  or call (561)-425-8918.

Code Palm Beach growing to inspire more kids in tech