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EPAM & Schroders Team Up to Host the Datafaces Workshop for Children

By 2020, there will be 1 million more computer science-related jobs than graduating students required to fill them. On top of that, the percentage of US high school students taking computer science courses has dropped from 25 percent to 19 percent over the past 20 years. While several national surveys show, including one conducted by Google, that kids are actually interested in the field, they don’t have the resources available to continue fueling and nurturing their curiosity, including social encouragement, academic exposure and career perception.

To take part in helping kids explore their curiosity for all things digital, we recently co-hosted the Datafaces Workshop with Schroders in Singapore. At the workshop, 17 children ages 10-14 learned about data visualization, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data privacy techniques and concepts through creative coding, as well as how technology can be applied beyond the tech industry.

During the workshop, we went over how to create interactive applications that can be published online. Along with that, the children got a brief introduction to data visualization, creative coding with JavaScript and machine learning techniques.

After that, the participants were free to develop their interactive apps by using the following to transform a basic scene into a dynamic environment:

  • Live camera as input to capture pixel data that influence different aspects such as color, positions and content
  • Facial recognition for input on reactions as someone is watching the scene
  • Tracking to alter object position in relation to observer position
  • Emotion detection and machine learning to alter content based on an observer’s mood

One of the participants, Samuel Tan, had this to say about the workshop: “I learned about facial recognition principles used in social media apps. The lessons were clear and fun.”

We have a responsibility to educate children on why having at least a basic understanding of computer science concepts is critical to their future. “To see kids get a grasp on a relatively complex topic is an extremely rewarding experience,” explained Balazs Fejes, Chief Technologist, APAC, EPAM Hong Kong. “We’re excited to keep collaborating with organizations like Schroders and support this initiative to teach children basic technology skills.”

Additionally, we need to teach kids early on that working in technology isn’t just about coding; it’s also about teamwork and creativity. Take it from Mitch Resnick, Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab and Chair of the Scratch Foundation: “Students can and should learn core [tech] skills in the process of working on creative projects.” By using this approach to teaching tech skills, we can continue inspiring future generations to not be passive technology users, but instead be an active part of the conversation.