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Cracking the code

Chloe Baron attended Le Wagon, a coding boot camp in Montreal, Canada, last year (Photograph supplied).

The tech industry around the world is brimming with men. However, Chloe Baron hopes to change that.

The 28-year-old junior software developer and instructor at ConnecTech has spent the past six months teaching hundreds of Primary 5 and Primary 6 students within the island’s public schools the basics of coding and computer programming.

The initiative, sponsored by Hamilton Insurance Group, aims to boost youth digital literacy in Bermuda and teach young people skills necessary to compete in the global workforce.

“It’s a hugely humbling experience teaching young people, especially girls, because you realise you have a direct impact on whether that early love for technology is sparked or not,” Ms Baron said.

“I’m very aware of how I speak to the students and make sure to encourage them and answer any questions they may have.

“Sometimes it’s hard to get them engaged with tech. It can feel overwhelming to them because we are introducing basic IT concepts and terms they may not be familiar with, but when they get it, it’s exciting to see that light go on. They become so proud of themselves.”

Ms Baron hopes to be an example to other girls and women in Bermuda’s technology space. She counts it a privilege to work under Coral Wells, the CEO and founder of ConnecTech, who has charted a course for other females in the computer science field.

“ConnecTech has made a conscious effort to inspire girls to get into IT,” she said.

“We really want them to be able to hold their own in tech circles and not get discouraged because it can be difficult to be a female in a male-dominated space.

“Thankfully, it’s becoming more common to see women in IT and the men I do know in this industry are great supporters of us as well.

“I want women to persist, not back down, and to know they are capable of absolutely anything they put their mind to.”

Ms Baron was not always sure how to turn her interest in computer science into a viable career. As a student at MSA, her teacher suggested she pursue an IT-related degree at university in Canada.

Because she doubted her abilities, she studied psychology and fine arts at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree in anthropology.

“Waterloo is actually a really tech-based school, almost like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology of Canada. Stephen Hawking was a guest on our campus while I was there,” she said.

“I ended up spending a lot of time in the math building around people studying computer science. I never really thought that was a career path I could take but began to see it as a possibility.”

After returning to the island in late 2014, Ms Baron joined the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences team as university programmes assistant.

Working under the education director, she helped to co-ordinate internships which provided international students with access to some of the latest marine-based technology.

“I wasn’t aware there were internships like that while in university,” she said.

“Some people who came down for the internships were mature students. It taught me that age shouldn’t be a deterrent to me pursuing a particular career.”

In April 2018, Ms Baron left her job to take part in Le Wagon’s nine-week intensive coding boot camp, based in Montreal. It helped her get up to date in all front-end web design techniques and back end database design.

Ms Baron found a position at ConnecTech soon after returning home in December.

She said watching young people use their imaginations and creativity was one of the biggest joys of teaching.

“Sometimes I will suggest something and the kids go back to their computers and find a totally different method of doing it, something I never thought of.

“At first they are nervous and unsure about how to create computer games and apps, but over time their confidence starts to really soar. They begin to think differently and become great problem solvers, which is really fulfilling to see.”

According to US statistics, around 25 per cent of computing jobs in America are held by women, even though they make up more than half the workforce.

 Source The Royal Gazette

Hundreds benefit from coding programme

ConnectTech’s public primary school coding programme, funded by Hamilton Insurance Group (“Hamilton”), concludes this month with a series of end of year showcases happening from Friday, June 7, 2019 to Thursday, June 20, 2019.

This year’s programme, which teaches basic coding skills to 314 students from 18 primary schools across the Island, is a component of Hamilton’s investment in youth digital literacy in Bermuda.

ConnecTech CEO and Founder Coral Wells has seen the classes help P5 and P6 students with their cognitive and problem solving skills, as well as facilitate creativity in young people who are encouraged to think outside the box.

Additionally, in part due to these classes, ConnecTech Instructors noticed an increase in their average ConnecTech test scores, up from 67.2% in December 2018 to 71% in April 2019.

Mrs. Wells said: “We are extremely pleased to see that the fundamental programming concepts we teach students are making a positive impact on their technical skills and computer literacy performance.

However, we are even more inspired to see our young people developing a love for technology and encouraged by those who plan to expand their knowledge of computer literacy skills even further. This skill set is necessary in order to compete in today’s global economy and will open up future career opportunities for them in Bermuda and beyond.”

“Partnering with ConnecTech to ensure Bermuda’s young people are developing confidence and competency in core digital media is extremely important to us,” said Hamilton CEO Pina Albo. “Now more than ever it is essential to keep up with new and emerging technologies. By sponsoring this programme, we know that Bermuda’s primary school students are being introduced to skills which will aid in their success in years to come.”

For their final project, young people enrolled in the classes were asked to demonstrate the coding skills they learned throughout the year by designing a map of Bermuda highlighting their favourite local attractions. The assignment encouraged them to discover more about Bermuda’s geography and history, as well as showcase digital design features including labelling, color-coding, photos and music.

These final projects will be unveiled at the upcoming end of year showcases, happening later this month.

 Several high achieving students have been identified within each primary school coding class, based on their grades, passion and overall understanding of programming. Those individuals will be offered a gift certificate to take additional courses and programmes offered at ConnecTech’s technology hub, located in the Sofia House on 48 Church Street in Hamilton.

In March, Mrs. Wells was invited by Hamilton to travel to London, England to teach two 45-minute beginner Python programming classes to middle school students at the Mulberry School for Girls from the Towers Hamlet School District. The girls were also given a tour of Hamilton at Lloyd’s’ offices as well as introductory presentations on various aspects of insurance by Hamilton employees.

“The girls were energetic and engaged during the tour and in the classes, which was amazing to see,” Mrs. Wells said. “We realised that our young people in Bermuda are on par with students their age in other parts in the world, which gives us great hope for the future.”

Source The Royal Gazette

Video: Premier On Fintech Training & Education

Premier David Burt is holding a press conference this afternoon [Jan 31] to introduce the Government’s Fintech Business Unit’s new Fintech initiative. We will have additional coverage later on and in the meantime the live video is below.

Zär’a Cardell Training And Teaching Python

For many of us, when we hear the word ‘Python’, we think of a slithery creature, but for 22-year-old Zär’a Cardell, it’s a computer programming language which he uses every day at work.

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