Coding may not be an easy skill to learn, but some high school students are determined to teach it to as many youngsters as possible.
Two upperclassmen have created a nonprofit organization called Math and Coding Academy that teaches local elementary and middle school students the basics of computer programming. Monta Vista High School junior Nikhil Cheerla and Harker School senior Vineet Kosaraju launched the program a year and a half ago at the Mountain View Public Library. With help from more than 30 volunteer teen teachers, the academy has spread to nearly 20 libraries – including the Los Altos Library – and has surpassed 1,000 students, according to the organization’s website. And the classes are free.
Kosaraju said the average session includes approximately 15-25 students, depending on the number of volunteers available, and there’s nearly always a waiting list.
The academy teaches skills essential to understanding the language of computer coding, according to Kosaraju. The most common is JAVA, but the organization offers workshops on robotics and app development as well.
“We have so many workshops that appeal to a bunch of different people,” Cheerla said. “So I think it’s not just people who want to be a programmer that can enjoy it.”
Cheerla added that he began coding in middle school and the idea of teaching the skill to others came from his learning experiences.
“We’re trying to essentially make it so that every kid who wants to learn can get started with programming,” he said. “They can learn the basics of it with people who know how to (code).”
Seeing students’ interest in coding grow has made Cheerla and Kosaraju proud of the work they’re doing.
“It’s really nice to know that we made a difference and that we can teach these students,” Kosaraju said. “I hope that (the students) will be able to use their interest in programming to create something unique.”
The students, however, are not the only ones who can learn something from the sessions.
Math and Coding Academy volunteer Rohan Mannem said teaching has helped him develop his public speaking skills, which has proven useful for school presentations.
“At first, teaching was kind of difficult because I had to get over the whole public speaking thing,” the Monta Vista High sophomore said. “But after a while, you realize that you’re teaching them and finding ways to break down and explain something complex into something much more simpler.”
Cheerla said he hopes to expand the program beyond Silicon Valley, “so we can reach more and more communities.”
To register for a session and for more information, visit mathandcoding.com.