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Innovate Canmore introduces coding program for kids

Innovate Canmore is launching a new children’s educational program to help Bow Valley students learn the ins and outs of computer coding.
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Innovate Canmore is launching a new children’s educational program to help Bow Valley students learn the ins and outs of computer coding.

CodePlay for Kids is set to launch in February at the Canmore campus of Bow Valley College and is a partnership between the post-secondary school and Innovate Canmore, a newly minted non-profit.

Leading up Innovate Canmore’s launch in the community in 2017 is Chamber of Commerce President Brian McLure, who said the program fits into the organization’s overall strategy to develop a technological ecosystem in the valley.

“Looking at the situation from 10,000 feet, it is part of Innovate Canmore’s wider strategy to develop a technological ecosystem in the valley,” McLure said. “We don’t have an identifiable technological ecosystem in the Bow Valley and that is one of the mandates Innovate Canmore has taken on with an economic diversification initiative for the tech sector.

“Our wider strategy is to develop that ecosystem through different dimensions from a kids’ educational program all the way through to a post-doctoral research technology incubator development program.”

Innovate Canmore’s primary focus is to develop a centre for technology, innovation and entrepreneurship – a tech super hub. Currently, it has a co-working space for development of various aspects of the technology sector and has access to the municipality’s supernet to facilitate that work.

Developing programming, said McLure, is the first step Innovate Canmore is taking in that direction. He said the organization identified a gap in the local educational system when it comes to computer programming.

“We decided to take this initiative and, in addition to that, we decided to do it as a collaboration with Bow Valley College, which is very interested in supporting this type of technological development here,” McLure said.

Bow Valley College already has a program with Canadian Rockies Public Schools to offer dual credit courses and he said the future of the computer coding program could include high school curriculum in a similar way.

“That is part of the overall strategy we are talking about,” McLure added. “We are starting off with this CodePlay for Kids program.

“It is a free program and we are very fortunate that we have a number of highly qualified people in town here with PhDs in computer science and computer engineering that are willing to teach it.”

Within a week of announcing the program, it has seen more than 25 applications, which he said was surprising and encouraging.

“We have been pleasantly surprised and overwhelmed by the number of applications and we want to be able to respond to that,” he said. “We were initially going to only do one pilot project and then look at the feasibility of running additional classes.”

There has also been interest to run educational programming around computer coding for adults, which McLure said would also be explored.

Innovate Canmore, he said, started a networking group for adults who work in that sector and held its first meeting last week.

The organization also received its official registered non-profit status from the federal government in December, after being started under the umbrella of the Chamber of Commerce. McLure said it fits within the chamber’s mandate to incubate economic diversification for the community.

To register for the CodePlay for Kids program, go to www.innovatecanmore.com for more information.




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