Published: 22nd November 2019
Friyays at HackerRank: The Bengaluru company transforms into a classroom for kids to code
To teach underprivileged kids is not an easy task, but the employees at HackerRank are determined to accomplish the task through innovation and by offering relentless support
Every Friday, from 3 to 5 pm, the office of HackerRank in Koramangala, Bengaluru is transformed into a classroom. Students visit to learn to code and are taught by the employees of this tech company. Currently, 20 students from ILMA School are making the most of this opportunity and learning the basics of python programming. This is their second batch and how this idea of teaching children from underprivileged backgrounds germinated is interesting, but what is more interesting is how employees of the company go out of their way to make it happen.
When it came together
In ideation since August 2018, this idea came to fruition in July 2019. But how do they take classes in their office, we wonder. "The logistics in schools is limited, so this was the best option," reasons Yuvraj Jaiswal who is part of the Community Team at HackerRank. They started off by getting in touch with Shweta Mukesh who helps KidsWhoKode who, in turn, connected them to the right schools so that they could take this forward. Their first batch consisted of 15 students from Greenland Public School. And the first big challenge they faced was transportation. "We thought that it would be best to bring children to our office via cabs and went on to suggest that the drivers can be from their own community, who are employed with either Ola or Uber, so that their safety is also ensured," shares Sruthi Ramachandran who is part of the Customer Success team.
An ongoing class | (Pic: HackerRank)
Children are tasked with the activity of building a game because, "That was the easiest way to make sure that kids remain interested in what we are teaching. All kids love games!" exclaims Yuvraj. So during the course of three months, kids built games like hangman, rock paper scissors (to which they added another two elements), tic tac toe "which is originally a two-player game, but the kids modified it to make it a game that they play till the board is full," says Yuvraj, who also adds, "What is really challenging and exciting for us is to develop innovative ways to teach children. For example, I ask them about the steps to make Maggi or wash a car and through that, I teach them about loops and steps," he explains.
Things fell into place and before they knew it, it was the end of their three-month course and Graduation Day was around the corner. "The Greenland batch was a great win for us because there were girls from backward areas also part of the batch," smiles Shruthi as she shares this. During Graduation Day, co-founders, parents, principals and students — all were invited. "Parents feel so touched and even students feel nice about the fact that everyone comes up to speak to them, including the co-founders," informs Sruthi. Kids not just displayed the games they built, but also played them.
"They are so good! At their age, I did know even ten per cent of the programming they do now," says Yuvraj and adds, "What is most endearing is the fact that they are perpetually hungry to learn more, something that we adults can learn."
For more on them, check out hackerrank.com