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New initiative from Startup Institute aims to introduce high schoolers to coding

Posted by Scott Kirsner  April 4, 2013 07:30 AM

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Know a high school student with an interest in technology — or just learning how to build stuff?

Startup Institute, the Cambridge-based organization that up until now has trained recent college grads to fill jobs at startups, will offer its first educational program for high schoolers later this month. The free High School RampUp series will run two Saturdays, April 27 and May 4th. But there's only space for 30 students.

Startup Institute CEO Aaron O'Hearn cites estimates that by 2020, the U.S. will have about one million more programming jobs than it has computer science students. High School RampUp targets "folks who have had zero exposure to coding — let's call them the non-nerdy students," he says. They'll spend two Saturdays getting comfortable with the Python programming language, and building simple web applications that pull in and manipulate data from social networks like Twitter and Facebook. (For instance, how many times do their friends talk about various bands or baseball teams?)

O'Hearn says there isn't a near-term goal for the initiative, like funneling the program's graduates into summer internships at startup companies: "We want these people to learn for the pure sake of learning, and expose them to coding early on." He cites the non-profit Code.org as the inspiration for High School RampUp; it promotes the teaching of programming in schools.

Olin College student Juliana Nazaré has been working with Startup Institute to develop the curriculum for the new course, which will be held in Kendall Square. Expect it to fill up fast...

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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