Celebrating the first clowder of Coding Cats!

It’s all cheers, celebrations, and coding at Raintree this month, where 100 students gathered for the inaugural Coding Cats graduation and project showcase. We wanted to share a little more of their journey, and what the future holds.

The first clowder of proud Coding Cats - Course 1 & 2

The first clowder of proud Coding Cats - Course 1 & 2

What is Coding Cats?
If it’s your first time encountering our program, Coding Cats is a partnership with Saturday Kids from Singapore. During the 5-­week program for students aged 15-­18 years old, they don’t learn to code, but code to learn. The pedagogy is designed to inspire curiosity, creativity, and resourcefulness with a fun digital curriculum based on the world’s most famous block­-based coding language - ­Scratch. Students are able to design a variety of original animations, stories and games that they can later share with others to collaborate on a project and even give design feedback to one another. The first student cohort was diverse with 70% from public schools and many of whom have limited or no prior computer experience. The classes were taught by our incredibly enthusiastic Coding Cats instructors, who are all passionate about creating a movement to inspire the next generation of curious young minds through technology. 

Gearing students to thrive in a rapidly changing world
As a parent, you may ask “what if my children don’t want to become computer programmers?”. Coding Cats is for every student, regardless of university or career interest. Coding as a medium provides universal skills and is not just about creating software, but taught well, can enable students to become resourceful learners. In a world that is ever-changing, the battle is won by those who are able to adapt and innovate. Teaching coding through games promotes adaptional computer science concepts such as loops, functions, arrays, switch statements, inheritance, and much more. These are the same concepts used in building businesses and software alike. This resourcefulness, coupled with self-motivation to learn, is a lifelong skill that will arm students in whatever career path they find themselves in.

Snapshots of the meow celebrations

Snapshots of the meow celebrations

Don’t just remember stuff!
Coding programs like this aim to decrease the traditional focus on low-level cognitive development - where a student sits in class and listens to a teacher dole out facts that they will then regurgitate later for an exam. Coding Cats acknowledges that children are capable of much more than memorisation, and we’ve witnessed their energy and creativity first-hand in our classes. The program also provides an authentic platform to share and showcase their learnings. Children are exposed to so much technology at a young age, but often miss a vital piece of the puzzle - when kids are introduced to coding, they gain an appreciation of how technology actually works. Coding allows its students to be technology creators, not just consumers. If we want to future-proof our children for the Industrial Revolution 4.0, we need to enable them accordingly. Instead of regarding technology as a magical inaccessible web of scariness, coding promotes the question of “why?” when thinking about any technology layer or product.  This curiosity we believe is another critical 21st Century skill, that allows students to constantly interrogate the world around them, and open doors to endless opportunities.

ជួប ហូ ច័ន្ទពន្លឺសោភា @ Raintree
We couldn’t have been more thrilled to see the students in action. Meet Chanponleusophea Ho, a 15 year-old student from Preah Yukunthor high school, who presented his ប្រណាំងឡាន game at the graduation party with wit and humour that sent the audience roaring in laughter, as well as earning him a thunderous applause. We spoke to his father after the ceremony on his thoughts of the program. “On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give this program a 10 and recommend it to friends as I can see how brave my son was after attending the program”, he said after watching his son speak to the large crowd of guests at the Canopy.

Chanponleusophea Ho demonstrating his original Scratch game he coded in 5 weeks

Chanponleusophea Ho demonstrating his original Scratch game he coded in 5 weeks

Coding Cats looks far beyond just coding. We’re trying to help crack the code to equipping students with skills that will allow them to thrive in the digital economy and in their lives. 
Stay tuned for the next news on the Coding Cats program and other education initiatives by subscribing to our newsletter and following us on facebook here @raintreecambodia. 

This community project is a partnership between Saturday Kids and Raintree, made possible with the generous support from USAID’s Development Innovations.

Guest contributor: Ry-Ann Lim | Photographs courtesy of: Sam Thik