Code School for children and heads of state

January 19, 2016

Read time 3 min

It started out as a humble club for the offspring of Reaktor employees. Little did we know it’d end up in the Finnish head of state, Sauli Niinistö, writing his first line of code. Right next to the diginatives of the 2010s. As one of the first presidents in the world. 

Some two years ago, Juha – developer and father of Code School – started teaching his four-year-old daughter to code. She was enjoying herself immensely, so Juha decided to see if other reaktorians and their little techies would like to try out coding as well. No experience in programming was required.Code school participant programmingThe club turned out to be a huge success. Encouraged by the positive feedback from the participants, we agreed that all children should get the chance to try out the basics of programming in a fun, tangible way. Word of a public code club spread through word of mouth and social media, and the registration for the first Code School filled up within an hour. Over 300 children were placed on a waiting list. 

Other great Finnish companies have recognized the demand for coding clubs and joined the movement as well – Futurice, Solita, Eficode, Codento, Vincit and Vaadin have also hosted popular programming lessons. All in all, dozens of Code Schools have been arranged since 2014, and hundreds of coders have taken their first steps in the world of programming. Get into the groove with this delightful video here:

The latest Code School lesson was arranged this morning at Kirjasto 10 in Helsinki. The setting was familiar: eager coders and their parents pouring in a little early to take out their laptops, reaktorian instructors getting their teaching mode on. 

However, this very special coding lesson attracted a very special guest. The president of the republic, Sauli Niinistö, was about to join the lesson.

Yes, that’s right. Today, Code School hosted eleven children aged less-than-ten-fingers and the Finnish head of state.Mr Niinistö trying out coding for the first timeAs the others coders were fueling up on juice boxes and were trying out different commands, Mister President arrived at the venue. He was interested in knowing their coding history and future plans in programming, and the kids showed the President what they’d managed to draw so far.

After collecting some valuable tips from his fellow Code School students, mister Niinistö took a seat next to the other coders. He was familiarized with the Turtle Roy graphical programming tool and was taught to move the cursor around. The application visualises the code, and the President learned to draw circles using real code.

– Let’s turn this thing 180 degrees, that would be a very political move, commented the head of state.

What does presidential code look like, then? Here’s what Sauli coded:PresidentialCodeIt is safe to say that Code School has become a nationwide phenomenon, following a larger societal trend. Programming will be included in the 2016 Finnish national core curriculum for basic education. Finland has been deemed the top country for information and communications technology. Our president has tried out coding with four-year-olds.

Natural continuations.


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