The evening was filled with smiles and insatiable curiosity of children and adults alike at the launch of Coding with Cody this October in our Belgrade office.
Yes, we have indeed successfully published our very own, Namics’ authored children’s book that introduces kids ages 2+ to the basic concepts of web engineering. Creative thinking is key in today’s dynamic world and our aim was to encourage this through our story. As we watch machine learning, new algorithms and the ever faster spread of information become more and more prevalent, it will become even more important for future generations to develop creative thinking skills. Our concept began with the challenge of how to explain to children, „how a computer talks“.
We started by creating a friend for our reader, with whom children can relate and interact. Cody is our protagonist, a robot-puppy who guides children, introducing them to basic coding symbols. We then came up with a question and answer format that involves the reader in everyday decision making processes by challenging them to identify simple html tags. By encouraging children to interact and answer questions during the story, our goal was to engage them and teach them the concept of cause and effect.
After months of hard work, brainstorming, writing and rewriting, illustrating and finally publishing our “baby” of a project, we threw a big bash in Belgrade to celebrate and share our creation with our colleagues and friends. At the launch party, we had the honor of hosting TV personality Miloš Urošević who, along with our very own Catherine Simon performed a reading of Cody in both Serbian and English. The room was full of a captive junior audience and their parents, and the children yelped with enthusiasm and cheered enthusiastically for Cody, validating our aim of creating an interactive experience for them.
Then we went from cheering for Cody to cheering for fishes, divers and octopuses in their attempt to run away from sharks. But first, the children were challenged to create their own video games in Scratch, with workshops led by Belgrade center, “Kliker”, a non-for-profit organization that teaches children web programming.
We ended our launch in time for bedtime, but it was hard to tear the kids away from their projects and from Cody. A gift of a copy of the book and a balloon was enough though to convince them that it was time to go.