Computer Science Unplugged. Kids can code too!

We live in a digital world and in many ways computer science is defining the future. While the sub-sector is characterized by coding, computer science is more than code. Solving complex problems and automating everyday functions using computing systems requires a lot of creativity and problem solving skills. So, why not build these skills for the future generations at young ages?

Over the course of February 2021, Google.org teamed up with NairoBits to teach students of up to age 16 the basic concepts of Computer Science using just pen and paper. With the Google CS first workbook, students are able to undertake activities that spark creativity, discussion and interest in ICT related careers. In just about 4 weeks, this program reached 693 participants in schools spread across the urban informal settlements of Nairobi and Machakos. This program not only piques the interest of computer science to children but also increases access to learning and builds the agency of participants to achieve careers in computer science.

This program saw the engagement of a wide array of partners who ensured that we reached the students who ordinarily wouldn’t have access to such opportunities: Three community-based organizations, 1 Faith-Based Organization and 3 Primary School setups were identified. To ensure sustainability of the concepts and inclusion into everyday learning, the initiative contextualized the materials and linked them with everyday situations as examples. Thereafter, a training of trainers was carried out for teachers, who are the primary access points for the students.

Looking back, the program had a huge impact on the lives of the participants. On several occasions, requests have been made for a sequel – from students, teachers & parents alike – owing to the interactive nature of the implementation. Without a doubt, the desire to consider and study computer science in high school and university among the participants was very high. One cannot fathom the far-reaching impacts of this program on the lives of 693 young people!

By: Michelle Tracy
Project Officer, NairoBits Trust