Technology is becoming more and more a part of everyone’s daily lives…and that includes children! Luckily, one of our favorite Chicago ladies (and past Women We Love) has created a platform and curriculum that teaches kids to code. Katy Lynch, CEO of Techweek and all around awesome Chicago lady, has worked with her husband to build Codeverse, a vertically integrated technology platform and coding school for kids aged 6 to 12.
Their goal is to teach a billion (yes you read that right) children to code with state-of-the-art, tech-enabled classrooms, offering weekend and after-school programs. The first one opens in Lincoln Park this summer, and she is sitting down with us in advance to tell us why we should all learn to code, and why it’s important to give back to your hometown.
WHAT LED YOU BRANCH OUT FROM YOUR PREVIOUS ROLES IN THE TECH WORLD INTO CODING SPECIFICALLY?
Craig is a phenomenal technologist and businessman. He taught himself how to code when he was 12 years old. Over the past decade, I have watched him build, sell, and invest in successful technology companies. It is so inspiring to witness just how valuable the ability to code is across all different industries.
When I was the CEO of Techweek, I hosted an event for the documentary “Code: Debugging the Gender Gap.”, which focuses on the lack of women and minorities in STEM. The documentary is truly eye-opening in highlighting the vast lack of diversity in one of the largest growing markets in today’s world. It is such an exciting time to be in tech, and it is disheartening and frustrating to see young girls shy away from pursuing a career in STEM-related fields. And so, this was my “a-ha!” moment to start Codeverse.
WHAT SHOULD EVERYONE KNOW ABOUT CODING?
That learning how to code is an extremely valuable skill to possess. Every industry is being disrupted by technology, and those who know how to code will have a huge advantage versus those who don’t. It doesn’t matter if you’re 6 years old or 36 years old…start learning the basics of coding now.
WHY IS THIS AN IMPORTANT SKILL FOR KIDS TO LEARN?
Coding teaches kids a multitude of real life skills outside of actual programming, such as problem solving, creativity, and critical thinking. Additionally, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be more than one million unfilled tech jobs within the next three years. We need to set kids up now with the right tools, skills, and resources they need to be able to fill the jobs of the future.
HOW DOES YOUR CURRICULUM CATER TO THE YOUNGER GENERATION?
We have a fantastic team of engineers who collectively know dozens of different programming languages. They spent over a year picking the core aspects and finding the concepts that overlap in the world’s most popular languages. They re-formatted it to be incredibly kid friendly, and built our proprietary language, KidScript, from the ground up with all of these findings in mind.
WHY IS GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY SUCH AN IMPORTANT ADDITION TO SOMEONE’S LIFE?
I look back on my entrepreneurial journey over the past 9 years, and I attribute much of my successes to the individuals that helped and supported me along the way. Their time, focus, energy and dedication changed my life. So, I think it’s crucial to give back to your community. Not only will it help someone who might be needing a little inspiration to spark the next big thing, but it is a terrific investment that will ultimately create more jobs and fuel the economy.
WHAT DO YOU GET OUT OF WORKING WITH STUDENTS?
There’s nothing cooler and more rewarding than seeing groups of young kids use our technology to build whatever they want. These are the thinkers, makers and doers of tomorrow! There’s a real sense of accomplishment for them, knowing that they developed an app or game from nothing. As for us, our team gets to witness and showcase all of their creations within our flagship studio!
DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS FOR EXPANSION OF THE CURRICULUM IN THE FUTURE?
There are already so many resources out there that teach adults how to code. But for young kids, there are not many options that have the type of robust curriculum available with Codeverse. This is why we are hyper-focused on teaching younger kids to code in a fun, social, engaging environment.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME IN CHICAGO?
I am a huge foodie and Soulcycle fan. My husband and I spend our free time finding new and exciting restaurants and cafes around town to dine at. And then we go to spinning class to burn off all of the calories!