As we fast approach Code Week UK, I offer you some inspiration for your coding students.
Your students are members of Gen Z, a 2.5 billion strong tribe of entrepreNERDs. This generation are natural entrepreneurs, they are creative, collaborative and socially conscious. Born after the invention of the smartphone, they are expert consumers of tech, combined with their innate creativity, they find the transition to tech creators super easy.
You may scoff and think, ‘not in my classroom’, but honestly, it’s true. I have witnessed it.
On my journey to opening a Geek school in Liverpool, I met an A-Level student, who very quietly, created his first online game by teaching himself to code in his bedroom. Securing £30,000 in revenue in short space of time he had enough money to fund his university career.
In my role as Director of Enterprise, I looked forward to daily wonderment at the tech creations and fledgling companies born out of the student created entrepreneurial eco-system at my school. From mobile games, Apps to Internet of Things solutions, their entrepreneurial and street smart creativity knew no bounds.
In more recent times, as the founder of Awesome Geeks, my quest continues to unearth and promote young tech talent. Why? Because young people need role models, who are ‘near peers’, just that little bit older and sometimes younger, who have created tech solutions, by taking responsibility for learning new skills independently and cleverly managing the demands of school, homework and YouTube.
From 9 year old Arnav Sharma, recent Tech4Good winner and inventor of the AsthmaPi to 16 year old Brandon Relph, owner of a Minecraft company with 32 employees across 13 countries, these young entrepreNERDs share several things in common.
1) They were trying to solve a problem
Brandon Relph set up GoCreative with Florian, his German co-founder to fund the cost of their Minecraft servers. Next year they are set to achieve a turnover of £1.2million
2) They are self taught
Arnav Sharma used the Khan Academy to learn how to code to create his invention, the AsthmaPi
3) They are already moving onto the next thing
17 year Lydia, creator of the Fitflash app is seeking a round of investment funding for her next tech project.
4) They like to collaborate
Cerys, 14 year old Raspberry Jam fan, takes pride not in her own achievements but in those of her attendees at her monthly Raspberry Jam.
During Code Week UK, why not set your students an entrepreNERD challenge?
1) Ask your students to create small founding teams
2) Fill them with inspiring examples of young tech stars
3) Challenge your students to solve a problem with a creative tech solution (coding required)
4) Equip with a bank of online learning resources
5) Give them a deadline to pitch their idea and showcase a prototype
It might get messy, it will be fun, some students will fail (but watch them pivot their idea to meet that deadline), but get ready to be inspired by your students and their creations.
Jade Parkinson-Hill (@missjademoon) is the founder of @awesomegeekcamp and has worked in UK education for the last 11 years, specialising in digital entrepreneurship. Jade has also hosted many after school and holiday programmes for geeky teenagers. In 2015 she was named one of the top 100 women in the video games sector for her role in setting up the UK’s first geek school in Liverpool.