Codefy = Code + Defiance. This organization, formerly DMVHacks, has committed itself to “defy[ing] the stereotypes relating to the field of Computer Science,” paving the way for future leaders in the sector and exhibiting the fun in the art of CS. With more than 100+ volunteers and a strong leadership team, Codefy offers free 1-on-1 and small group classes in Computer Science, holding themselves strongly to the belief that everyone is able and entitled to learn how to code. Our writers were fortunate enough to have an opportunity to sit down with Executive Director Lucy (Langley HS ‘21) as well as Mentor Teachers Sydney (TJHSST ‘22), Onur (TJHSST ‘22), Michelle (TJHSST ‘22) and Michael (TJHSST ‘22) to talk about their inspiring work with Codefy.
When Lucy Chen and her friend, Anaum, first founded Codefy, they had little idea what was to come. As Lucy recalls, “originally, Codefy was launched because my friend Anaum and I thought found that most hackathons were usually geared towards older and more experienced students.” With the novel idea of organizing a hackathon for younger students to inspire a passion for Computer Science, Lucy and team were able to obtain a grant from AI4ALL, striving towards the plan of hosting an in-person Hackathon this March.
Then, there was the Coronavirus.
With the possibility of an in-person Hackathon diminishing by the day, Lucy & Team took it upon themselves to reflect on their initiative moving forward. Recalling her experiencing mentoring her own little brother in CS, Lucy began to appreciate the value that tutoring offered. As she recalls “Anaum and I have this grant money from AI4ALL which is sitting there waiting to be used...why not just expand our original purpose a bit and offer free programming classes for students? And that's what we did.”
Offering free CS classes became a way for Lucy and her team to serve her community during COVID-19. Not only did Codefy fulfill the gap in education that came with extended periods of school closure, it also provided a sense of solidarity to their students. Starting with nothing but a great idea and a team of dedicated individuals, Codefy quickly blossomed in size. Lucy writes:
“Both Anaum and I definitely did not expect to receive much support at all. So I was really surprised to see so many people who wanted to help. And I guess it was even more heartwarming to see so many students want to get together for this project...you know? Most of us have never met in real life, but we are still willing to work together and put in our time to give people a chance to learn computer science in a fun and engaging way”
Today, Codefy has reached more than 400 students with their free coding classes in Scratch, Java (Basic & Advanced), Python (Basic & Advanced), Web Development, Web Applications, C++ and Data Structures. Their mentor teachers, per Michael and Michelle, interact with their students via Zoom, showcasing techniques through PPTs, answering questions, walking through code, and even staying behind to reflect upon their experiences and lessons as a team. For Onur, having an organization that consisted of students who were passionate about Computer Science created a fun and engaging lesson environment that the students all greatly benefitted from.
The feedback they have received, likewise, has been phenomenal. As Onur recalls, “universally, the students have been thrilled with the opportunities we provide both in regards to general language learning and conceptual understanding in the informatics field.” Sydney corroborates upon this, reflecting how “many students have expressed their excitement to start out with the classes and come back each week, and I think providing an opportunity to pursue that passion in the subject is very rewarding.”
As the organization has matured, they have reflected upon their progress and taken undertaken initiatives for expansion as they continue to cater towards students of all levels. Codefy offered extension classes to help students amidst the frenzy of AP exams this May, and are striving towards offering a variety of classes this Summer. Moreover, the organization has hosted a free Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning workshop with the Helyx initiative, inviting an ISEF winner as a guest speaker. As Lucy states, “We are currently working with other organizations to create new workshop opportunities for students, which will feature a broad range of topics, from coding demos, to CS research opportunities, to admissions advice for prospective CS majors in college.”
We highly encourage you all to check out the work of Codefy and sign up for their classes if you’re interested! You can connect with them at firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit their website at www.codefycs.org.
This article was written as part of the Student Alliance’s Student Stories. You may find more information about the various articles on our website www.thestudentalliance.org and Instagram page @thestudentalliance. Thanks for reading!