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WHAT DO YOU DO?
I co-founded Bitsbox with a fellow dad and ex-Googler in 2014.
WHY DO YOU DO IT?
When I was a software engineer at Google, my seven-year-old daughter asked me what I did at work. I was so excited by her interest that I went online and began searching coding tools for kids. I wasn’t impressed by what I found. Most tools used block-based coding or robots, and I wanted Audrey to learn to code like I had.
When I was seven, my dad bought the family a TRS-80 Color Computer, and it came with an instruction book. If I wanted the computer to do anything, I had to write code. I learned to program by copying instructions from the book and fiddling with dozens of commands that made no sense to me at the time. After a while, I became familiar with what I was actually writing.
I couldn’t find a coding tool for kids that worked this way, so I decided to build one.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
Frankly, kids aren’t learning this stuff in schools, and we think they should be. To date, we’ve shipped more than 150,000 boxes to all seven continents, and 1.4 million kids’ coding accounts have been created on our website. Bitsbox is making coding accessible to a lot of kids that otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity or resources.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THIS IMPACT?
Kids and their inherent curiosity. Grownups often shy away from coding—it’s unfamiliar to them and therefore scary. Kids jump right in, and once they discover they can customize the code, they’re hooked. It’s an indescribable feeling when you witness a kid realizing that they can actually create the games they love.
WHAT’S YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
We want to demystify coding. Too often, programming is seen as a mysterious superpower that only a hooded genius in a dark room can master. Coding is fun, and it’s a perfect creative outlet for kids that can turn screen time into a productive use of time.
WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THOSE DREAMS COME TRUE?
Educators are really valuable resources to us, both in their knowledge about how kids learn and their ability to introduce mass quantities of kids to Bitsbox. The more educators we can connect with, the better.
WHAT IS (OR HAS BEEN) YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
The product form has always been a challenge, and therefore ever-evolving. We started out by sending the same box of materials to every subscriber each month. This was not only a lot of work for us to produce new content every month, but it’s not the way kids learn best.
In late 2016, we moved to a leveled learning system. Kids receive Box 1 the first month, Box 2 the second month, and so on. Now we can introduce coding concepts in an intentional order, and ramp up the projects in difficulty as we go.
Our current focus is creating a better tool for schools.
WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER LEADERS LOOKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT?
Find a mission you’re passionate about and hire people who share that same passion. Our team is genuinely dedicated to inspiring the next generation of creators, and it makes our jobs a whole lot more fun.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
Spread the word about the importance of kids coding! In this day and age, it’s a skill kids need to be familiar with. Even if they want to be doctors, painters, or firefighters when they grow up.
If you know a kid that you want to introduce to coding, check out our free tutorial apps at bitsbox.com/code.
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