Festival of Code comes to a close

Coding kids to use open data to solve real world problems at the Festival of Code finale this weekend

Over 1,000 budding computer coders who’ve had less than five days to create apps, games and websites using open data to solve real world problems descend upon Plymouth this weekend (Fri Aug 1- Sun Aug 3) for Young Rewired State’s Festival of Code finale.

This week has seen 58 centres across the UK welcome an army of kids through their doors as part of the festival, granting them access to open government data – including exclusive data from The Met Office, TfL and the police– to use their coding skills to create projects which they will present to the judges this weekend.

For the majority, technology has become a necessity in everyday life resulting in a need for a workforce with the ability to code. Coding is needed to create software that provides us with our smart phones, computers, apps, games, household appliances and much more. Young Rewired State believes that if children with a natural desire to code are encouraged to delve into their passion, they will be well-equipped with a set of hugely desirable skills for their future.

The annual Festival of Code is organised by Young Rewired State, a not-for-profit organisation, whose aim it is to find and foster every young person with a love of coding and a determination to teach themselves the technological skill. Since its establishment, Young Rewired State has rapidly grown to be a huge independent global network of children and this year will be its 6th anniversary.

During the weekend, youngsters from across all corners of the UK will have the chance to present their designs back to a panel of judges, meet peers and celebrate a week of achievements. Judges will be a mix of influencers and industry names who are spearheading coding across the country, including founder of CoderDojo Bill Liao, BBC’s Head of Strategic Delivery Kerensa Jennings, Sathya Smith, Head of Partner Solutions at Google and musician and judge on the Israeli version of American Idol, Yoni Bloch.

The weekend festival will also aim to tap into young people’s interests outside of just coding, with a pop up skate park, interactive graffiti wall and bubble football all on-site. Live music will come from The Virus Empire – who use retro video games to create their music – as well as Mizkai and J3wel.

During the week, the youngsters will have the chance to access open data from a host of sources including data.gov.uk, which hosts over 9,000 datasets from central government departments and a number of other public sector bodies and authorities. The young people also have exclusive access to The Met Office’s ‘DataPoints API’ technology which has information on weather forecasts, data and observations to keep them challenged and encourage innovation.

Last year’s Festival of Code saw designs such as ProjectHermes, a platform for outing internet trolls, Mortune, a music app which played new artists according to your preferences and Establish.Me, a website which unites town councils, residents and businesses to take advantage of empty shop spaces scoop top prizes. The week proved that with the support of Young Rewired State and by working alongside like-minded peers, the youngsters could confront everyday problems and create viable solutions.

To connect this year’s young kids with the international coding community, a selection of alumni from the global Young Rewired State community will be flying in especially to take part. Youths from Germany, New York and San Francisco will travel to Plymouth for the week to learn tips from the UK, share their own insights and connect through coding – as well as a number of keen coders from Kosovo who will participate remotely and submit their own ideas for Sunday’s Show and Tell finale.

As per tradition, Young Rewired State has also put together an impressive line-up of guest speakers, who will be present on the Friday to share their own experiences from within the technology sector. Confirmed speakers include leader of the Hour of Code in the UK Avid Larizadeh, judge Yoni Bloch, and finally cult spoken word artist George Mpanga – also known as George the Poet.

The venue, Plymouth University’s i-DAT is an Open Research Lab for playful experimentation with creative technology which since 1998 has hosted a programme of national and international arts and cultural activities.The initiative is this year being supported by Google, American Express, The University of Plymouth, TalkTalk, Plymouth Council and The Met Office amongst others.

Emma Mulqueeny, CEO Young Rewired State, said: “Young Rewired State’s ambition is to find and foster every child driven to teach themselves to code and connect them to a community of mentors to solve real world problems through open data.

“The Festival of Code is our annual week-long celebration. It provides these young people with an environment that emboldens their passion for coding and programming. It gives them a chance to work in partnership with their coding peers, learn from the experts and create new digital solutions to problems we all face! The week will be very hands on with plenty of data to get stuck into, as well as the chance to hear from some top speakers from across the industry.

“We can’t wait to visit Plymouth this year and celebrate the nation’s young coding talent once again – we are urging youngsters all across the UK to sign up and join us this for what will be a week of fun, hacks and challenges.”