Ellen CarlsonKids Can Code
By Rebecca Anderson-Brown, Kate Bast, Lisa Bauer, Shelby Deering, Elle Duncombe-Mills, Jenie Gao, Emily Leas, Marni McEntee, Candice Wagener & Rachel Werner | Photographed by Hillary Schave
“There are things that you can do right here in your community to make things better for other people,” says Ellen Carlson, founder of Kids Code Madison, a free weekly computer coding club whose impetus was personal but quickly became community-focused.
Realizing there wasn’t much for her own sons beyond one-day beginner courses and budget-busting camps, Carlson, who has always filtered her ideas by questioning if they would be fair and beneficial to others, looked at Madison as this burgeoning tech sector, but wondered what was available for its emerging youth.
“I’m hearing all these people tell us that the economics of the city is going to depend on tech, and I see all the different tech groups that meet and the conferences, like Forward Fest, and I thought ‘Where are you going to get your [future] employees?’”
With a successful pilot this past summer at Hawthorne Library, Carlson hopes to host Kids Code Madison throughout the city, bringing tech to kids where they are and exposing them in a way they never considered before. “Kids love to play games and when you say to them ‘Do you want to make a game?’ they’re intrigued.”
Carlson also wants to inspire their inner entrepreneur. “Knowing you can go out and create something and have value, it’s kind of what I think people love about tech. You can kind of get in and you don’t have to have a formal education, you just have to have the skills.” –Candice Wagener