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Erbil kids learn basics of video game coding

By A.C. Robinson 7/7/2018
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Children attended a “Coding for Kids” workshop on Saturday to learn the basics of computer coding and how to design and play their own video games, encouraging young people to consider technology-based solutions for the future. It is the first project of its kind in Kurdistan. 

“Coding is important because our future is becoming more and more technology focused,” Brit Hemming, coding instructor and founder of Programmers 4 Peace, told Rudaw English from the Re:Coded headquarters at Nergiz Plaza in Erbil.

Hemming said the class of six to 12 year olds was mixed, with some of them learning basics while others learned more advanced coding concepts.

“But all of the kids are keeping up and are really interested,” she said. “You’d be surprised how quickly children learn. They are all really smart and are catching on quickly.”

Hemming, originally from Canada and hired by Re:Coded, visited the Kurdistan Region to educate local children and encourage them to become more interested in coding and other programming languages.

She hopes to teach similar classes in other cities in Iraq and has already taught workshops in Rwanda, Indonesia, Israel, and the Gaza Strip.

“It’s important to create what we’re using, not just consume it,” Hemming said. “I also think that it’s going to be the great equalizer. If you can learn to code, you can get online and access a digital economy no matter where you are in the world so it’s going to bring a lot more opportunities to people who may not have them now.”

One attendee, Nawar, a nine-year-old boy from Mosul, was excited to attend the class.

“It’s really nice because we learned how to make games and we got to play games too,” he said, adding he wants to come back and learn more.

Nawar’s cousin, Sharbl, age 10, also joined the class.

“I had fun today. I already know how to make games, but today I learned how to save them,” he said proudly.

Kayl Crawford, a 12-year-old boy from the UK, also said he had fun in the workshop.

“Today we learned how to make a game,” he told Rudaw. “The objective of the game was to make a playable character and two other characters or as many as you wanted.”

Crawford also explained in detail how the game worked and how points are won and lost.

Once the children completed their games, they were able to switch places with other students to try out the games classmates had created. Ten children took part in the workshop.

Saturday’s “Coding for Kids” workshop was a one-day class at the Re:Coded headquarters which cost $20 to participate.

Zahra Shah, Program Manager for Re:Coded in Erbil, a tech hub for training conflict-affected individuals worldwide, told Rudaw a variety of other technology-related courses will be provided to children in Erbil.

“We’ll be teaching entrepreneurship for children, digital design, more in-depth game-making and more in-depth classes teaching HTML and CSS, mark up languages for web-making,” she said.

Shah said the children will also learn about market research, how to design logos and business cards and other skills in each of the week-long classes throughout the summer which cost $100 and take place between 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. five days a week.

Based on demand, she added, children’s courses will also continue once schools are back in session.

The “Coding for Kids” workshop and a “Web Makers Camp for Kids” which begins on Sunday are hosted by Ventifact and Re:Coded Erbil Hub and sponsored by Zain.

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