The teens at CodeWorks had a better summer than you did - Baltimore


Aug. 15, 2016 12:54 pm

The teens at CodeWorks had a better summer than you did

The five-week coding program involved a who's who of Baltimore innovation outfits. And the students even got paid.

CodeWorks students listen to tech leaders.

(Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Dania Harrid and George Matthews spent their summer learning video game design.

The Baltimore city students went from no experience in design to learning to use the Unity game development platform. It was hard at first, so they went online and found a hack to make it easier. They even showed the instructor something new.

“She taught us the way she learned; we taught her the way we learned,” Matthews said.

Harrid and Matthews were just two of the roughly five dozen youth participating in CodeWorks. The tech-focused program was pegged as a centerpiece of the city’s five-week YouthWorks program, which provided jobs to about 8,000 people ages 17-21. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and other officials visited the CodeWorks site to highlight YouthWorks, and it was featured in a CNN article about the program.

Along with video games, the Code in the Schools-run program gave students the option of learning the basics of programming, front-end web development, Python and more. They got exposed to the Baltimore City Robotics Center and the new tech center at Union Baptist Church, and showed off their projects at Impact Hub Baltimore.

And they got paid.

As Harrid and Matthews’ hacks suggest, they also learned about taking an entrepreneurial approach to work from industry leaders. During a panel on one Friday afternoon at Union Baptist, a group of tech community leaders talked about each of their non-linear paths to their current positions, and offered some advice.

Jasmine Simms of Scrub Nail Boutique and Moms as Entrepreneurs talked about testing an idea. Tajia Thomas talked about how it’s OK to fail. Richard May of Innovation Village introduced his peanut butter and jelly method for making connections. Rodney Foxworth of Impact Hub Baltimore and Invested Impact said entrepreneurship is more than a 9-to-5 job.

“You have everything you need already,” May said. “All it takes is for you to team up with each other to bring that idea to life.”

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