OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE OUTFIT Mozilla has ramped up efforts to build a future generation of web site coders by hosting part of this year's Festival of Code.
Part of software vendor SAP's Young Rewired State (YRS) initiative, which aims to develop young people's understanding of software programming, Festival of Code is an annual national coding event.
Now in its fourth year, Festival of Code has grown from 50 members and now consists of over 500 participants, all aged between 10 and 18. The young people work together in groups on different coding projects to build digital products in both mobile and web site software.
Mozilla is one of the 50 businesses in the UK that have hosted the event this week, and The INQUIRER looked in at firm's offices in central London to see how the event was getting on.
Mozilla's learning partnerships lead, John Bevan showed us around the offices and explained that the event had been like a cross between work experience and a code hacking day.
"Festival of Code has encouraged and given a platform for kids who might be isolated to meet each other," he said. "Companies have formed off relationships that have been struck up over the course of the week at YRS, over the years."
Bevan said it "just made sense" for Mozilla to become part of the initiative. Being a "sponsor of the digital coding movement", he said it is important for the firm to be part of Festival of Code to help work around what he calls the issue of digital literacy in the modern age.
"The Issue has just been gathering pace, for example Eric Schmidt has done talks around the importance of digital literacy, and from a Mozilla point of view we talk about building a movement - a generation of web makers.
"Cast your eyes 20, 50, or even 100 years in to the future and we ask ‘what does your world look like if doctors, artists, carpenters, scientists, journalists all know a bit of code', so it is embedded into everyone - a language everyone can share as a creative tool?"
Bevan also noted that Mozilla believes that raising a generation of coders is important so that in the future we as a nation can understand the technology that we are becoming more dependent upon.
"Technological devices are being brought closer and closer into people's lives, but the understanding of how stuff works is getting pushed further away so we at Mozilla think it's important to try and close that gap so that people understand how stuff works and is built."
The young groups will present their projects at a final coding "sleepover" party in Birmingham on Saturday, where they will be judged on their efforts. After five heats judged by 24 technology related personalities, including TV presenter Maggie Philbin and Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton, the winners will be decided and awarded prizes.
There are four prize catagories - SAP's "Best in show", "I wish I'd thought of that", "Best example of coding" and "Code a better country".
The finalists of these categories will then show their presentations again to a new set of VIP judges including technologist Conrad Wolfram, designer Aral Balkan, PM advisor at No.10 Jonathan Luff and SAP's Thomas Grassl, who will decide on the overall winners.
The initiative has so far shown great potential for all those involved, with previous participants moving on to full-time jobs in the software development industry. µ
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