St. Louis Library - Coding 101
All images courtesy of: Kara Smith, St. Louis County Library.
The Coding 101 program through the St. Louis County library is enabling a diverse group of students (10 to 14 years old) across St. Louis to begin learning the foundational skills and language that will prepare them for these high school programs, and ultimately get them excited about a career in technology. Coding 101 programs are offered free to students, which especially benefits those that cannot afford the cost of other options, which can cost up to $500/week.
The goal of the Coding 101 program is to find and encourage St. Louis community’s next generation of software developers. St. Louis schools, including public schools, are adding coding to their curriculum.
The library offered four Coding 101 courses in their first year (2017). Each class costs the Library Foundation just over $2,600 for 12 children (max enrollment for each course). The biggest portion of this cost is the Chromebook laptop each child receives upon completion.
The library was forced to begin a lottery for enrollment as over 200 kids are typically interested in the 12 spots in each series.
Through a $10,000 grant from JSMF, the library was able to provide three sessions in 2020, bringing the total sessions offered in 2020 to six. This funding directly impacted the students in the program, the families of the students, and employees and volunteers of the library. This funding also assisted the Library in garnering additional grants from foundations like JSMF and corporations ensuring the program is available to those on the waitlist, and can meet expected growth in demand.
Additional indirect benefits include long-term benefits for students, instilling an interest in programming. Receiving a Chromebook gives opportunities for students to continue participating in coding activities when the workshop is over (as well as using the Chromebook for school work ). These students share their experience with others at school, family and friends, who also take the program. While the direct reach is 12 students per session, there are over 200 students who apply each time the library offers the program.