Youth and Teens Learning Code

I might be biased, but I am continually impressed by the projects that young people are able to create here in the library—from 3D printed designs in The Lab, to homemade pillows in the BOOMbox. Teens are so open to trying new things, even when the project seems intimidating.

For the last few years, I have been working with small groups of youth who want to try their hand at designing and creating mobile applications. We use a free, web-based program hosted by MIT, called App Inventor, that breaks down the barriers to creating your own Android applications from scratch. Working together, we create a couple of sample apps, spend some time conceptualizing a new app based on what we've learned, and then work independently to bring our own apps to life with code. Now for the first time ever, we are publishing these applications online for community members to download and try on their Android mobile devices. I highly suggest taking a look at our growing collection so far.

This winter, we hope to add more youth-created mobile apps to the collection by working with App Inventor in a number of library programs. First up is our Afternoon of Code event on Wednesday, December 9, as part of Computer Science Education Week. We will have multiple opportunities for youth of different ages to interact with coding around the library—including a demonstration of how to use App Inventor, led by me. We will also be starting a bi-weekly Code Club for youth in grade 6-8 to practice coding together in a supportive environment. Be on the lookout for the dates to those events starting in January.

Computer programming is an important skill that youth can master with a bit of work. Writing code—and creating apps that can be shared and used by everyone—builds not only computer skills, but also confidence, creativity, and problem-solving abilities. Introduce your kids to coding today, and who knows what creative projects they will come up with!