On June 4 and 5, 2019, NewTechKids organized an ‘Intro to Programming’ bootcamp in Amsterdam for 50 students from Lagos, Nigeria. We partnered with Metis Montessori Lyceum, a high school in Amsterdam which is one of the only high schools in the Netherlands to offer a specialized programming track.

Theme: Programming in the Context of Automation

Since most of the Nigerian students (ages 10-12) had no previous programming experience, we focused on the theme of programming in the context of automation. We hosted lively class discussions about technology and its impact and played interactive games focused on the history of automation. The students also received hands-on, programming experience with LEGO Mindstorms robotics kits and Micro:bits, mini programmable computers.

Grand Challenge: Develop Tech Prototype for Solving Environmental Disaster

The grand challenge of the bootcamp was for students to work in small teams to design, build and program technology prototypes with LEGO Mindstorms which help solve an environmental disaster. The team which won the final challenge designed a robot which picks up trash and lifts it into a dumpster. It’s worth noting that the winning team was composed of two girls and one boy and they worked very well together. (Also note that this was the first programming experience that these students have had.)

Nigeria student teams – winning robot

Guest Speakers: African Technologists

One of the highlights of the bootcamp were our two guest speakers who are African technologists currently working for tech companies in Amsterdam: Ivan Digber, a Ghanaian working as a developer and Elizabeth Kalinaki, a data scientist from Uganda. They talked about their education and training and motivation for becoming technologists before explaining how their programming backgrounds help them outside of their work. Ivan talked about how working in programming has made him more organized and structured and helps him successfully deal with unanticipated events and failure. Elizabeth talked about how data science has made her inquisitive about everything and also more focused on her professional and personal goals.

Collaboration with Dutch High School: Teachers and Students

A very special aspect of the bootcamp was our ability to bring the Nigerian students together with students from the Metis Montessori Lyceum who acted as our assistants on the second day. One of the Lyceum’s teaching pillars is world orientation and our bootcamp offered Metis students the opportunity to share their programming skills and expertise while learning from the Nigerian students.

A big ‘thank you’ to Hakan Akkas, his colleagues and student assistants for their collaboration and support.