CCA student turns passion for computer programming into nonprofit organization

CCA senior Matthew Hachten started Coder Kids in hopes of teaching peers coding.

Senior Matthew Hachten started Coder Kids in hopes of teaching peers coding.

What began as a part-time hobby has turned into a charitable nonprofit organization that has orchestrated instruction to more than 2,000 people over the last two years. CCA junior Matthew Hachten of Camp Hill started Coder Kids out of a desire to meet kids his age who were interested in computer programming and coding. 

His brother showed him the basics of coding when Matthew was 10, which planted the seed to begin exploring the realm of computer science. He began with the basics but moved on to learning JavaScript and created a few web applications and games. 

Beginning of Coder Kids

By age 12, Matthew wanted to meet other kids who had the same interest in coding that he did. In spring 2014, Matthew and his father, Tom, posted information on Meetup about their first coding workshop. This was the start of Coder Kids, with meetings initially held at a Camp Hill community center. 

“The first meetup had almost 100 people, to the point where the venue we were in was too small for our group,” Matthew said. “It was crazy for so many people to be interested in it just from word of mouth and Meetup.”

Initially, the focus was on teaching kids how to do fun and new things with “Minecraft.” Over the years, the focus has transitioned to teaching programming, whether it be for building a website or designing a game to tap into students with an interest in STEM education. 

How Coder Kids has developed

The workshop meets one Saturday per month in a training room provided by Select Medical. Coder Kids offers classes for beginner, intermediate and advanced students that alternate each month. Matthew teaches the more advanced and technical courses, while Tom instructs beginners. 

“The advanced class is what makes the internet work,” Tom said. “[Matthew] teaches JavaScript, HTML and CSS to kids who have some experience programming.” 

The beginner workshops start with a 20-minute introduction on how to scratch the surface of coding. The remainder of time is spent allowing kids to work independently, while Matthew and Tom walk around to assist. Because kids are required to attend with an adult, Matthew is often teaching parents how to code as well. 

Workshops are free for anyone who wants to attend. It is recommended to bring a laptop, but there are a few laptops available that generous donors gave them to use. 

The future is encoded

 Matthew finds enjoyment in coding, particularly because of the problem-solving aspect. 

“I really enjoy solving problems using logical thinking,” he said. “In the case of trying to fix something, I try to understand the perspective of what the computer is doing, what and where the program went wrong.”

This year, Matthew is taking Java programming and AP computer science at CCA. He has been involved in the Computer Science Club. His post-graduation plans are to continue with programming and computer science, whether it is teaching in higher education or becoming a software developer. 

If you are interested in getting your child involved, you can see upcoming workshop dates on Coder Kids Meetup and register to attend. 

Author

Commonwealth Charter Academy

Published

November 21, 2018

Category

Learning Lab

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