How Volunteers Can Expand Opportunities and Bridge the Digital Divide;

By Natalie Gayinski

As a parent of three children of various age groups I’ve observed elementary school age is crucial for development of self confidence, long term preferences and hobbies. Moreover, with every passing year, starting around age 10, stereotypes start piling up.  Children start forming a definitive perception of what is and what is not possible to achieve, based on self assessment of one’s character and talents and the opportunities they had to develop. Therefore, it is very important for kids to open their mind to endless opportunities while they are still young and to have help in doing that.

Being a longtime software engineer it’s deeply fulfilling to share my passion for coding with children and to see that sparkle in their eyes, watch their confidence and empowerment grow, and also hear from teachers about their excitement and engagement.  But more students need these opportunities.

There has been a big push recently for public schools to introduce computer science to their students as a core curriculum. And, I know from experience that there is a particularly large gap in coding opportunities for elementary school students.  However what legislators and activists don’t always take into account is that many school districts are severely under-staffed, underfunded, and overcrowded.

The teachers are doing an excellent job teaching our kids core curriculum, and also how to be decent human beings. So although it makes sense, extra curriculum in coding classes orcamps aren’t enough to get all public school students comfortable with coding.

And overwhelming the teachers with even more responsibilities also doesn’t seem like the right solution to me. The real solution is for us all to take responsibility for our children’ future. This is what helps achieve, and we look forward to partnering with many other organizations that help our kids achieve their full potential through coding.

PassionForCoding is about volunteer software engineers sharing their passion for coding with public elementary school students in their classroom setting, in the form of 1 hour hands on workshops. Its purpose is to bring Awareness about how Awesome and Accessible coding is across all public schools in United States. The workshop is highly interactive and designed around language the children can relate to.

Running these workshops has been a very rewarding experience for me, and I look forward to growing our volunteer community next school year. Seeing a spark in kids’ eyes when they get to touch a motherboard, or witnessing a 10 year old girl writing “Girls rule the world!” 10,000 times on a web page using JavaScript, or seeing a line of boys and girls alike taking turns writing code, or watching how proud they are to be in charge :-)

One teacher’s thank you note after the workshop still sticks with me:

“Thank you so much for sharing your coding knowledge and skills, the motherboard and Dash! The kids loved programming Dash, of course, and described him as playful, cute and funny, although they still wonder who Dot is ;~). It gave them an inkling of what goes into programming a robot & how fun it can be. The motherboard & brain they found very interesting and the name coding was intriguing. One student described learning about Javascript as “mind-blowing how many things went into programming a computer”.”

The program is currently active in one school district, and we’ll be looking to expand to more districts next school year.  If you would like to learn more about having our volunteers visit your school please reach out to [email protected].


About the Author-

Senior Data Engineer at Sparkcentral, Founder at, I’m a superhuman software engineer, passionate about coding, believing the sky is the limit.  I’m also a very happy and proud Mom of 3 wonderful kids. Two of them are in a northern California public school system. It was not until high school that I came across and fell in love with software programming. I found it to be a natural extension of real life, providing at times more effective tools to solve problems. It also gave me a newfound feeling of confidence, that I would not have otherwise. My goal is to share my passion for coding with as many kids as possible to provide them with the same opportunity I was given as a child.


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