The Path to Python: A guide for middle schoolers
A free app that teaches middle schoolers Python linearly without a teacher. Students can start, stop and save, practicing at their own pace.
Which focus area(s) does this proposed app address?
How will your app make an impact?
Education: Kiwi partners with nonprofits and schools in Austin. While Kiwi teaches low-income youth through these partnerships, Kiwi recognizes that there is a huge population of ambitious and amazing students that aren’t being reached. Kiwi loves sharing its passion for coding with all students and wants to reach this untapped group. There are numerous barriers for these students including lack of resources, transportation and funds. The free platforms that currently exist are ambiguous and intimidating to a first-time coder. Because of these enormous obstacles, students may not have access to a Kiwi class (or other STEM/coding program).
With funding, Kiwi will reach not only students in the classroom, but those outside the classroom as well. Students will learn individually, through a step-by-step guide that integrates kid-friendly explanations with fundamental coding concepts. The engaging curriculum will provide middle schoolers with a quality education that teaches programming, while targeting their specific age group.
Students throughout Austin and across the country will now have access to a Python education tool that is fun, easy and affordable. Through this app, Kiwi will increase its community impact in three ways: 1) Students will learn Python independently with reduced barriers. 2) Teachers at low-income schools with no computer science experience will use the application to guide students through Python classes. 3) Kiwi students will use the tool to continue their education after completing in-class learning.
Kiwi will use the application to better the lives of youth and provide unique opportunities for students to create their own success through code.
Why is your app next-generation?
Kiwi’s application will empower Austin’s next generation of coders.
The digital divide is growing, and Austin needs creative solutions for kids get interested in and excited to code. Students in middle to upper-income areas experience creative and innovative technology regularly through school and at home, beginning at a young age. Those who live in less fortunate circumstances aren’t exposed to environments that allow them to develop a passion for technology. Our city needs a coding education platform that tackles the problem of learning coding fundamentals while providing free education to the youth that need it most.
Kiwi wants to fix this problem by providing a high-quality online application that teaches the next generation Python, step-by-step, and allows them to practice their skills – all through an in-browser experience at no cost.
Kiwi does not have an existing gigabit connection, however we will work with organizations that do. Kiwi’s application will need to run code quickly while demonstrating interactive examples through images, text and prompts. This will require high-bandwidth internet, to ensure that students can see their changes in real-time. When Kiwi is ready to market the application, it will reach out to organizations (non-profits, schools and corporations) that use gigabit internet technology. Kiwi will forge partnerships to raise awareness about the application, leverage the gigabit internet technology and impact the most students.
Tell us about your superhero team.
Founders Julia Lamorelle and Marty Jones created Kiwi in order to provide children with an opportunity to explore and create through coding. Neither founder had the opportunity to learn programming until graduating from college. As their passion for coding grew, they look back and wish they had a school mentor to teach code. Their goal is to reach incredible curious kids at a younger age, from all backgrounds, and cultivate a love of code.
Julia loves working with youth and believes that a diverse education, with strong mentors, is the foundation for success. Coding is a proactive solution to bring youth out of poverty and she strives to create a powerhouse organization that transforms the world, one kid at a time. Partnering with Austin schools, enrichment programs and nonprofits, Julia establishes best practices to better reach youth. She understands how middle schoolers flourish and learn in the classroom, and incorporates this knowledge into Kiwi curriculum.
As a self-taught programmer, Marty is passionate about teaching kids to code. Dedicating his free time to simplifying coding fundamentals, he loves incorporating silly lessons to solidify concepts for students. As the lead instructor and head of curriculum, he melds technical coding concepts with entertaining activities.
Marty will lead the development team while Julia focuses on user experience. As Marty creates the tool, he will recruit passionate programmers in Austin to provide support. Through ATX Hack for Change, for example, Kiwi knows 8 talented Austin developers that want to contribute.
Over the last year, Marty and Julia tested the Kiwi curriculum and structure to ensure students were excited and learning. They leveraged student feedback to perfect their program. Kiwi will use these experiences to develop a high-quality application for online Python learning. Once finalizing, Julia and Marty will test the platform in weekly classes to ensure middle schoolers thrive.
Accessibility and Inclusion
With a growing digital divide, under-served communities are falling behind in technology. Kiwi tackles this problem through its Python classes and private lessons. However, creating an application will allow Kiwi to reach a larger audience, sharing code with a significant amount of low-income middle schoolers. Below are limitations that currently prevent low-income students from learning to code:
- Transportation: Middle schoolers don’t have access to transportation to attend a coding class, and are at the disposal of their family’s schedule.
- Funds: Coding classes are expensive and often require a computer, a cost difficult for low-income parents to justify.
- Resources: Low-income families frequently live without a home computer. When families own a computer, they often limit their child’s usage to prevent damages.
- Teachers: Students often don’t have a teacher to lead coding classes. If students want to learn independently, they must use online materials that target adults.
Kiwi will eliminate these barriers with its application. Students will code without downloading software, without an instructor, without a cumbersome programming setup, and without the complicated research process required to learn coding concepts. The application will allow students to code from any computer including schools and public libraries. It will include appealing layouts and verbiage for middle schoolers, provide linear curriculum and ensure that students understand the lesson before continuing. With reduced barriers, coding will become an option to middle schoolers from all backgrounds, income levels and experiences.
With funding, Kiwi will hire developers to create the application and can market in Austin’s low-income areas. Kiwi will target schools and youth organizations that haven’t experienced coding education, impacting the most students in our community. The tool will reach middle schoolers that need it most, and bring increased value to low-income areas. Middle schoolers will be able to learn from anywhere, building skills in Python.
If your team wins, what will the prize money be used for?
Kiwi will use the funds to develop a revolutionary application and market it once finished. To build out the application, Kiwi will hire two to three philanthropic developers, including Marty. Kiwi has a network of passionate, education-loving developers that will work at a discounted rate. With funding, Kiwi co-founder Marty can devote himself full-time to develop a spectacular application. This will expedite the process and ensure the project is completed successfully within the expected time frame.
Once the project is finalized, Kiwi will use the remaining funds to support the ongoing hosting of the application, do market validation and promote the product. Kiwi will need to receive feedback from its rockstar middle schoolers and adjust the product based on the students’ ideas. With ongoing feedback, Kiwi can market the product to schools and non-profits in Austin.
Simultaneously, CEO Julia Lamorelle will begin marketing the application to markets outside of Austin. She will partner with superstar corporations and national organizations to reach the best and brightest students outside of Austin. All remaining funds will cover these costs.
Optional: Please share any relevant documents about your app concept.