Schools

High school students launch free coding classes


Courtesy of Ananya Venkatraman
Students participate in the first day of Code Silicon Valley’s summer coding classes.

Sidd Iyer and his friends are so devoted to making coding more accessible to students that they’re not only teaching free classes this summer, they’re covering the expenses. Their program, Code Silicon Valley, launched last week at Los Altos High School.

The team of teen teachers and their families are paying all the costs, which include renting classrooms, according to Ananya Venkatraman, who handles public relations for the venture. In addition, they are providing computers for students unable to bring their own, she said.

By making the classes free to local students, Iyer estimated that their program will save the Los Altos community approximately $80,000.

“We are not expecting to make up money spent on the camp,” said Iyer, director of Code Silicon Valley. “We live in the Silicon Valley, so coding is all around us. We are moving into an age where programming is extremely important and is going to be fundamental in society in a few years.”

Iyer, who will teach classes such as how to build a website and social media network, said the struggles he experienced while learning to code gave him the idea to start the program.

“After four years, I am fluent in over five programming languages,” said the rising senior at Los Altos High. “As I look back on the journey, however, I realize that if I had received a little bit of help here and there, the whole process could have gone a lot more smoothly.”

The members of Code Silicon Valley attend Los Altos and Homestead high schools and all have experience tutoring students. Iyer hopes that having students teach the classes will help them better connect with the high school and middle school students enrolled.

“The fact that the class is taught by high school students allows for a teaching method that is relatable in understanding how coding works,” added Venkatraman, an incoming senior at Los Altos High. “The teachers (at Code Silicon Valley) are passionate, and that passion can make an impression on students.”

According to Iyer, classes are project-based, with close collaboration between teachers and students. Although the nonprofit group may not have much funding, Iyer noted that he and his team are determined to ensure the classes remain a fun and encouraging experience for students.

“One major stereotype is that coding is only for males. To combat this, we make our course more inviting to everyone by making classes with no set theme,” Iyer said. “This way, anyone can add their own creative input.”

Although Iyer will graduate next spring, he hopes the program will run beyond that. He said he would like to pass the proverbial torch to another group of passionate students.

Beginner- to advanced-level classes began June 25 and are slated to run through July 20.

To register for a class and for more information, visit codesv.org.

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