Getting kids hooked on computer science

Teaching upper elementary through high school students to code is the goal of one San Antonio, Texas program called “Youth Code Jam.” The program helps get kids excited about computer science and motivates them to aspire to high tech jobs of the future.


Teaching upper elementary through high school students to code is the goal of one San Antonio, Texas, program called Youth Code Jam.

The program helps get kids excited about computer science and motivates them to aspire to high-tech jobs of the future.

Let's take a look.

Today's event is a Youth Code Jam for teens with high-functioning autism and Asperger's.

This is really important to me, this particular event.

They're all important to me, but this one is special to me.

As our event, our large Code Jam grew bigger and bigger and bigger, what we discovered was that some of our kids with sensory issues and with some social anxiety were having a challenging time managing that big, loud, busy environment, and so we decided last year to do our first pull-out event.

It's a low-sensory event, very quiet.

There's not music in the background.

The kids are seated.

Our volunteers are seated.

And this gives an opportunity for kids to be in an environment that's comfortable for them, where they feel safe and secure and not distracted by a lot of other activity going on around them so that they can really focus in on what they want to learn.

This is our second time here at a Youth Code Jam.

It's hard to really keep his interest sometimes.

He has a lot of different extracurricular activities as it is.

Me being more of a technology-oriented parent, I'm always trying to push him to something along those lines, which is why I really appreciate the CodeCombat because it's a video game.

He happens to like video games quite a bit, so it really does keep his attention and keep him going.

Our goal is really to inspire an interest in programming, to build their confidence, and to help them imagine themselves in a job of the future.

What we know about this particular population is about 80% of -- The statistics say about 80% of young adults with Asperger's are either underemployed or unemployed.

That's a huge number.

Now, hold that number in your mind, and then think about the fact that there's going to be a million unfilled programmer jobs by the year 2020, and that computing jobs are now the number-one source of new wages in the United States.

So, we have not only a growing field, but a field that doesn't have enough people in it already.

As a parent, you don't know if your kid has the skill set.


And you may not even know that it's easy for these kids to learn this skill set.

So what happens is these kids come to these events, their parents bring them thinking maybe there's something there, the kids are saying maybe there's something there.

They sit down, they write their first line of code, and you should see a a parent's eyes light up when they see their kid and the capacity that they have for this.

Now, as a parent, what do we want for our kids?

We want them to be happy.

We'd also like them to have a job.

[ Laughs ] Right?

There are companies that want these kids because their neural systems are so well-suited to this arena.

It's just an excellent opportunity for us and for all the other young people here because, I mean, teaching code is basically teaching how to get jobs in the future.

It's teaching order, it's teaching structure, and it's teaching discipline.

These are skills that will really carry them through a lifetime.

These are also skills that teach them how to think logically, how to think critically, and how to create and design, how to be creative, so those tools are really important no matter what we decide to do in life.


Thank you.