Thirty events organized all over Bulgaria mobilized many children and young people to discover the new horizons of modern technology. WCIF with the support of TechSoup Europe and SAP Labs organized this nation-wide campaign during the European Coding week in which children and youngsters gathered at various locations to learn more about coding and robotics. Most of events were attended by mixed audiences /children and youth/, yet if we define children as aged between 8 – 16 and youth those above, the predominant majority about 65% were children. Most events were interactive with active participation of attendees.
The skills that were popularized trough the initiative were in their essence coding skills and skills needed for robotics like algorithm development, choosing the most optimal coding language, web-coding, chat-bot, game coding, etc. The tools/programs most often used in the events were: Scratch, LEGO sets, Finch, „Bee-Bot“, Snap coding language, Stereoscopic Player, Photoshop, Arduino Uno, Ubitech, Utility Game Engines, microbit plate, Python and others. All of the organizations that actually organized the local events are active in the field of children and youth education and some are specialized in working in the field of IT training or promotion of digital literacy, or STEM in education.
The general feedback received from participating organizations is very positive. The fact that small community based not for profits could apply in a very easy and comprehensive mode via the Meet & Code website created a feeling of belongingness to international community beyond borders. Organizations appreciated very much this atmosphere of being part of the big EU technology and coding family. The initiative fostered youth development and learning in a very positive way.
Dessislava Tzokova is the IT trainer for the two events organized by “Community support at THTI“ Association in the town of Vidin within the framework of the Meet and Code initiative. The events were attended by a total of 48 students aged between 8 and 14. The events took place in a small town with limited access to quality educational and technological resources.
Dessislava set forth the ambitious objective to sparkle students’ interest in coding and improve their digital literacy with the two events: “Let’s code with LEGO” and “First steps in coding with Scratch“. The choice for a career in IT and software development would be an added value to the initiative.
During the events children and youngsters see in reality how mathematics and informatics relate to coding a robot and at the same time develop their digital, coding and analytical skills They learn how to perform operations in sequence as to a set algorithm. They prepared a short story-line to be performed by the characters they create and code. They are successful in coping with a number of challenges like coding their robots to follow strict geometrical figures.
As a result, students not only made their first steps in the world of coding, but also acquired confidence in their own potential. All of this happens in a playful and amusing atmosphere.
The initiative motivates Dessislava to seek new interactive and practical oriented methods with which to inspire young people's interest in IT and programming.