Apple launches free, in-person coding sessions for kids in Vancouver

The company is helping teach those aged 10 and up to code their first app, and is placing special emphasis on bringing girls into STEM.

Photo: Unsplash

The future is digital. Understanding not just how computers work, but knowing how to program them, is increasingly a must-have skill. Nowhere is this more true than for the K-12 students of today, who will not only participate in the digital world, but will be the ones who build it.

In celebration of Computer Science Education Week – which runs from December 5 to 11 – Apple has introduced a new in-person coding session at both its downtown Apple Pacific Centre store and Apple Metrotown in Burnaby, as well as across the world. The events, titled Coding Lab for Kids: Code Your First App, are designed to inspire those aged 10 and up to explore app development in a fun, welcoming environment. Best of all for parents, the sessions are free to register, and Apple will provide all the necessary devices.

During the lab, experts will show kids how to use Apple’s Swift Playgrounds program on an iPad – an easy-to-use, fun piece of software that takes learners from their first line of code to a full app. Participants will use SwiftUI – Apple’s framework for building user interfaces – and a real-time app preview to customize and bring their creation to life with vibrant fonts, background colours, Memoji, and more.

“Around the world, our stores are centers for community, where people of all ages are invited to discover the most innovative products, learn new skills, and explore their creative passions,” said Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s senior vice president of retail and people. “Whether you’re trying something new like coding, or looking for tips for getting started with a device, our free [...] sessions offer something for everyone — and our talented team members are always here to support you.”

Children take part in a Coding Lab for Kids: Code Your First app session. Photo: Apple.

The new classes are not Apple’s only initiative to make coding more accessible this Computer Science Education Week and beyond. In a special, private session tomorrow, the company has invited a coding club of Grade 6 and 7 girls from West Van to the Apple Pacific Centre to meet Sarah Boland, the Vancouver-based CEO and founder of Life Lapse. Boland’s app is a tool for creating stop-motion animations, which has more than two million users across 180 countries.

In a session aimed at bringing more girls into STEM, Boland will share her journey as a female app developer, before joining the class at a special Coding Labs for Kids: Code Your First App session led by Apple employees.

The initiative was spearheaded by Cari Wilson from the West Vancouver School District, where she is the Innovation and Technology Support Lead Teacher as well as a Grade 7 classroom teacher. She launched a coding club for Grade 6 and 7 girls in the area — called Girls with Superpowers — in an effort to increase their representation in science and tech: a mission shared by Apple.

“We need equal representation in tech and STEM, for the simple need that we need their perspectives,” says Wilson. “Because I am a woman, that’s been my focus. If it’s only men right now, that’s not a balanced approach to design. It’s fantastic that kids of all ages and backgrounds can go to an Apple retail store and get hands-on with coding. Through sessions like these, we’re able to help inspire the imagination of the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.”

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