Mehak Garg is a current senior at Milpitas High School. She is passionate about creating pathways, human-centered design, and the social/legal implications of technology. In college, she’d like to pursue a major in computer science and a minor in economics. During her free time, she can be found writing case studies for her blog, teaching students the fundamentals of social entrepreneurship, or playing tennis. We asked her to describe her initiatives with her organization, Coding4Kids.
Tell me about Coding4Kids. What is the organization’s objective?
In an increasingly tech-driven and globalized world, it’s imperative students are digitally literate and learn basic coding skills. Traditional school curriculum, especially in underfunded schools, often don’t cover those skills. Our mission at Coding4Kids is to offer coding pathways to K-12 students in under-resourced and low-income communities that have historically lacked in STEM pathways.
What was your inspiration for creating Coding4Kids, and how do you feel you are inspiring other students?
I co-founded Coding4Kids with Shivali Gulati. I noticed this huge lack of coding resources in my community, and to get exposure, students had to spend hundreds of dollars on courses and programs. Living in a district where a large percentage of students are homeless and low-income, there needed to be free pathways for interested students. We created free interactive classes in our community, and after getting a lot of positive feedback and seeing these first few classes becoming successful, we expanded. We started recruiting students to join Coding4Kids worldwide to start their own chapters in their respective communities. To inspire students in classes, we always include many interactive and relatable projects that connect the material to their lives. We’ll allocate days for students to collaborate and code amongst themselves, asking the teachers for help they needed to make the classes more fun for them.
How would you like to expand Coding4Kids in the future?
So far, we have 18 chapters of Coding4Kids across the globe, and I’d love to see that number increase, especially in countries where we haven’t had any chapters built yet, such as Russia and Vietnam. We also hope to branch out with our course offerings and provide more interdisciplinary niche classes that aren’t strictly focused on one coding language but rather delve into other subjects such as AI ethicality or the intersection of CS + medicine.
How has COVID-19 affected Coding4Kids’ instruction?
Before COVID-19, all of our classes were in-person, so we’ve had to shift to entirely online instruction, which has opened up many opportunities for us. Due to online classes, it’s much easier to invite speakers to certain class sessions and make the classes more interactive. We’ve also held a virtual summer program and hackathon this past summer with students across the nation! One of the challenges we’ve faced is making the classes hands-on since we included things like robotics kits in the past, and so we’ve tried to make classes more project-based and interactive to counter that. Additionally, it’s difficult to check in with students since before you could go around the class to see how they were doing, but it’s hard to emulate that in a zoom session where you don’t always know if they’re having trouble.
Where can we find out more about Coding4Kids, and how can we support you and the organization?
You can find out more about Coding4Kids at https://coding4kidsnonprof.wixsite.com/official!