Educating the system

We teach the language of the future.

Regarded as one of the most culturally influential countries in Europe and even more so as one of the world’s economic powerhouses, Germany has a reputation for efficiency and reliability. No surprise that the well-known term ‘German engineering’ was coined.

So while you might expect the country’s education system generates its engineers through stringent tutoring on all things technical, in reality it’s very different.

Despite living in a digital era, computer programming still doesn’t form part of the German curriculum. Without it being a compulsory subject, most school pupils aren’t exposed to the topic until their teenage years.

This is because school-level education in Germany is the responsibility of the country’s 16 individual states, with each having its own education departments and policies. As a result, Germany has 16 different curriculums instead of one overall system set by the government, like that in the UK and US.

But in a bid to change all of this, in the heart of the city of Düsseldorf, a small group of people were inspired to set up Codingschule – an initiative to transform education across the country.

Getting with the programme

In April 2016, founder and CEO Güncem Campagna, along with COO and co-founder Anna Roscina, set up the extracurricular school to teach children, adolescents and adults how to code.


Once kids lose their interest it is difficult to inspire them again.


Codingschule gives anyone interested easy access to the world of machines and programming, using programming languages such as Scratch and Python.

"Explaining it non-technically – coding is like talking to a machine to tell it what to do," explains Güncem. "Just like any other language in the world, it has its own syntax and rules."

"In general, kids choose whether they want a technical job when they are in secondary school and so once they lose their interest in technical subjects it is difficult to inspire them again."

To combat this the Codingschule believe that you need to start early and provide lessons for children.

A large proportion of the classes teach pupils using Raspberry Pi computers and Pi-Tops during workshops purchased from RS, a leading global distributor of these products. Pupils learn that coding is easy and fun and provides an opportunity to have an influence which opens up a new world.

“When you realise the importance of coding it is plausible that all pupils should have access to it. We are surrounded by machines and code is the language we need to control them, so it opens up opportunities just like reading and writing does.”

Bringing ideas to life

Codingschule currently has four permanent team members and 15 freelance trainers, consisting of teachers, researchers, developers and technology enthusiasts.

One voluntary teacher, Tobias Hübner, describes some of the creative devices which have been made at Codingschule – most of which come from simple household goods.

"Using a small IKEA storage box, we teach children to make a homemade gaming device,” he explains. “We drilled holes in the top so the kids can install buttons and a joystick to play with.

“If you open the lid of the box, they’re all connected on the inside to create a Bluetooth controller that can be used with a smartphone or game console.”

The school uses Raspberry Pi’s within their creations as they find it a great tool to teach with, very inexpensive and the children love it!

“With RS being one of the main distributors of the Raspberry Pi, we are very pleased that they are so interested in what we are doing and passionate about helping raise awareness of Codingschule.”

Supporting women in engineering

Alongside helping to reform the education system in Germany, one of the predominant goals of the Codingschule is to encourage more women to pursue careers in engineering.

Tobias says: “The Codingschule started from a workshop on Girls’ Day in 2016. This is a special career information day where there are a lot of events – particularly for young girls – to discover STEM jobs or activities. We set up a Raspberry Pi workshop and that was the beginning of everything.


It’s very important for girls to see their opportunities


The Codingschule also hosts Girls Club, where girls’ only classes are available with the support of a female trainer, so they can work in a comfortable environment.

“It’s very important for girls to see their opportunities – there is a lot for women to do in this world and I think we should offer them some new prospects.

Creating the future of coding

Looking forward, Codingschule hopes to bring the German curriculum into the digital age. COO and co-founder Anna says: “Sometimes we cannot believe that it all started with just one workshop. Two years later, we’ve had more than 800 participants.”

“Looking back, one thing is clear – Codingschule’s success is the team’s success. We had many failures as well but we just carried on, worked hard and didn’t give up.

The Codingschule is helping to show the future of education. In Germany, there is a shortage of teachers educated in programming and that’s why it’s very difficult to establish lessons.


The Codingschule is helping to show the future of education


So while it’s not yet part of the German curriculum, the government is starting to think about it. Our vision is that every child will have access to technique and programming and a digital curriculum.”

The team are all inspired by their desire to improve education in Germany and pass on their knowledge to enable kids to create their own future.

Anna concludes: “We believed in what we did. There will always be ups and downs, but if you don’t live your dream then you have to live someone else’s.”

RS has been working and supporting a number of schemes and initiatives to support the development of tomorrow’s engineers. With a deficit of skilled engineers globally the importance of raising awareness and actively engaging in educational projects in collaboration with technology innovators is vital in bridging this gap.

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