Robots, code, virtual reality and electronic circuits! Xero’s second annual Family Coding Day had it all. Around 60 mini-Xeros aged from 3 to 18 and their parents spent their Saturday with Xero volunteers. They showed them how to work with all the latest tech tools.
Where the magic happens
Sasen Haputhanthree was one of the many kids who came down to Xero headquarters to join in for the Family Coding Day. He says he has always loved playing on computers, and coding has become one of his favourite activities.
“I’ve always wanted to see where the programs get built and where it all happens, so that maybe one day I can work here.”
The 8-year-old says he learned the some of the basics of coding at school, with his father also teaching him a thing or two.
“I started using the coding tool Scratch and I have learnt a bit from my dad as well, so I know some stuff. But today I got to create new projects and help others too.”
Kids who code
His father, Charith Haputhanthree, has been working at Xero for almost six months as a Development Team Lead. He says it’s great for children to learn coding skills from an early age.
“It’s more about showing them that it can be done. It’s a good thing if they are able to see and do things and try things out, even if it doesn’t always work.”
He says Sasen would make a great developer if he decided to make a career out of it.
“He loves to explain and show stuff. I think that’s what we want to teach our kids, to be able to communicate ideas and bring them to life. That’s what working at Xero is about.”
Shaping the future generation
A team of 20 volunteers each designed their own activities for the different age groups.
“There are tracks to create games for 5-11 year-olds with laptops or iPads with Scratch or Play Lab or creative coding using Artist Studio,” says Michelle Gleeson, the creator of this event and a Lead Developer here at Xero.
“Then there’s App Inventor session for 11-16 year-olds. And teenagers over 16 are creating their own websites using Ruby and HTML. We also have fun breakout activities with Dash and Dot robots, coding virtual reality with Unity, and making squishy circuits with conductive play dough.”
She says the demand for coding will only grow, and all kids should have the opportunity to learn about it.
“Exposing kids to code at a young age can give them the confidence to pursue it as a career later on. We need a more diverse group of people writing the software we use everyday. Innovation comes from a diversity of ideas and a passion for creating. This is what we are trying to demonstrate and encourage.”
Michelle says although it was a great event last year, the volunteers this year have really upped the ante.
“We had a lot more volunteers this year, and they brought many more ideas. Last year, it started because a few of us volunteer at schools to help kids code, so we brought those skills in for the event. This year we had Xero volunteers come up with ideas based on other passions and hobbies. The response from everyone has been great, so we hope next time it will be even bigger and better.”