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Taking Equitable Coding to Mongolia!

August 9 2022 · By Kambria "Kami" Harris

Just like the infamous Whitney Houston lyrics say, “we believe the children are our future.” So it’s only right that we make the effort to “teach them well and let them lead the way.” At BootUp, we understand the importance of helping children globally learn computer science early on, and for the first time ever, we extended our services internationally to teach kids in Mongolia.

BootUp PD and Codercub hosted a weeklong Young Coders Camp in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, from the 5th of July until the 9th, where 27 students attended the camp–two-thirds ranging from six to eight. The camp was held at the Selbe School of Innovation.

Young coders learned coding concepts, like algorithms, variables, and controls, through block-based coding platforms - Scratch and ScratchJr. Students were able to create unique interest-driven coding projects during BootUp and Codercub's five-day immersive coding camp.

BootUp Director of Education and Research, Jared O'Leary, and Senior PD Facilitator, Heather Cunningham, joined Zolbayar Magsar from Codercub during the five-day immersive coding camp.

During their trip to Mongolia, Heather and Jared both indulged in learning about the culture, exploring the beautiful country, and most importantly, spending time with the students and teaching them about coding and computer science.

Heather refers to her experience in Mongolia as an unforgettable one stating, “Our trip to Mongolia was absolutely life-changing. Zolbayar Masgar was incredibly gracious and the best host we could have asked for. This was a dream trip. Jared and I not only got to share our passion for computer science and coding with kids, but we also got to experience the beauty of the Mongolian culture. Everything about Mongolia was magical, from the amazing cuisine to the kind caring nature of the Mongolian people.”

BootUp worked with Codercub, a network with a similar mission to advance elementary students by teaching them computer science skills and developing methods for their growth in the tech and STEM industries.

Zolbayar had only positive remarks about the camp saying, “We wanted to showcase that, with the right tools, coding can be taught effectively to kids as young as six-year-olds. The right tools would definitely include BootUp’s excellent curriculum accompanied by their top-notch facilitators.”

Presenting CS at the elementary level can have other immaterial advantages, for example, the premature onset of learning computer science provides a sense of understanding and interest prior to the students reaching a level of higher education. This makes it easier for the students to transition to studying computer science on a more rigorous level in middle and high school, and for some, college as well.

As the world continues to evolve in its reliance on technology, the demand for careers in tech and STEM increase. Allowing students to learn these valuable skills at such a young age gives them the opportunity to overcome poverty, crime, and other debilitating circumstances by using the knowledge they gain from CS to obtain a solid career and stream of income.

“Codercub and BooUp share a similar mission to create access to CS at the elementary level and develop pathways for its continuous growth, so it was incredibly humbling to collaborate on this initiative. I can’t wait to continue this adventure with Codercub and see the amazing things the students of Mongolia do in the future!” she added.

When it comes to the students, Heather described the camp attendees to be nothing short of amazing. “The students in the camp were engaged learners that quickly developed their own style of coding. They were creative thinkers who excelled at everything they were exposed to. They not only learned how to code games, stories, and biographies using ScratchJr, they also participated in unplugged activities that helped make coding concepts more concrete. Throughout the week, students created complex algorithms, used decomposition and abstraction to reverse engineer projects, collaborated on programming with a partner, and developed their skills and talents as coders.”

Jared emphasized the fantastic experience that they shared with Heather and the Mongolian camp students saying, “It was wonderful working with kids over the course of a few days. The coders I worked with created a variety of personalized games, stories, animations, and artwork in Scratch. It was an honor working with them, and I look forward to seeing what they create in the future!”

We are so excited to be advancing internationally to further our mission of teaching elementary students the importance of computer science and STEM. We are ecstatic that we were able to share this experience with Codercub and the wonderful students in Mongolia.

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