Community Voices

What in the world is DEV DEV?

 Benwood blogger Justin Hoenke conducted this interview of Elena Hatch, who participated in the DEV DEV: summer of code program last year ("dev dev" is coding speak for "developing developers"). This summer, DEV DEV: summer of code will once again be offered to students at the 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library. Over four weeks in July, DEV DEV will teach fifty teens ages 12-18 how to code, including instruction in HTML, CSS, Javascript, and robotics. DEV DEV is organized by Engage 3D, in partnership with AIGA Chattanooga and the Chattanooga Public Library.  

What was your favorite part of DEV DEV and why?
One of my favorite parts of DEV DEV was hearing the speakers that came to talk to us every day. It was so interesting to hear from such a broad spectrum of people that write code for a living. We got to hear from people at the Co.Lab here in Chattanooga, we had speakers from across the country, and we even had a speaker from a company based South America! It was such an eye-opening experience to listen to developers, many of whom were self-taught, talk about how important coding is in their jobs and to see the opportunities that are available for a person that can write code. For me, it answered the feeling of, “Writing code is fun, but what’s the point?” It helped me see the value in learning to code and realize how big of a role developers play in our world. Hearing from the speakers made me that much more excited about continuing to learn about programming and has motivated me to continue learning even after DEV DEV was over.

How important do you think it is for kids, tweens, and teens to learn how to code?
As technology becomes more and more a part of our everyday lives, it is increasingly important that we understand the technology that we use. Most kids and teens have grown up with technology and are pros at using the devices they come in contact with. But many kids have no idea how a computer is made and why it works like it does. Learning to code, and becoming the creator of a program instead of being the consumer of one, is a very powerful experience especially for kids and teens. Coding teaches math and problem-solving skills, but more importantly, it allows kids to be creative and invent something of their own! Creating your first program or website is a magical experience as you see something you imagined become a reality. Learning to code is not only great fun, it is also a very viable job opportunity. As technology advances, developers are in high demand and there are not enough people that know how! Exposing kids and teens to programming is a way to spark the interest and desire to code that we need. If they are given the opportunity early on, then kids will have have the chance to pursue a job in that area.


Tell us about your DEV DEV experience in the summer of 2013. What were some of the things you learned?
DEV DEV 2013 was an amazing experience. When I signed up for it, I had no idea what to expect, but it ended up being so much more than I could have hoped for. I had previously studied code on codecademy.com, learning the basics of HTML and CSS, but being at DEV DEV really helped me grow in my skills and appreciation for coding. During the first two weeks of DEV DEV we learned HTML and CSS from Seun Erinle. We learned how to create our own website, add media, and best of all, how to make it look good! One of the best parts that week was that we were each able to create a personal website that we presented on the final “Demo Day”. That project really challenged me to design and figure out how to use what I had been learning to make something that I was proud to show off. Also that week, during our “screen break” time, we learned about how the internet works. We were able to go see the server room where the library hosts their website, and eventually we were able to put our own websites up on the internet! It was amazing to finally understand a little more about how the internet, something I use every day, really functions. On the third week, we learned about Python from James McNutt. Using Python, we were able to write scripts that allowed us to calculate numbers, create dialogues, and make games. It was incredible to see how endless the possibilities were! On the final week, we built Arduino robots and learned how to program them. Through code, we were able to tell the robots to go exactly where we wanted, and by the end of the week we had programmed one to spell “DEV DEV” by dragging a marker behind it. It was really cool to see our code on the computer turn into visible, physical movement. Our learning didn’t stop at programming languages though. Every day, we got to listen to a different speaker, either about how they use developing in their job, or showing us how to improve our coding. It was really inspiring for me to see how what we were learning applies in the real word. We also did lots of off-screen activities. During that time, we did things like learning how to count in binary numbers, learning how digital pictures are coded, and we even created our own pixel art that was displayed on the windows of the library. That time, combined with learning code and listening to speakers, made being at DEV DEV a wonderful experience and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Elena DEV DEV.jpg
Elena with her website at Demo Day. (Photo by Mary Barnett, Chattanooga Public Library)

Tell us about how you’ve used some of the skills you learned during DEV DEV in your life recently.
After DEV DEV, I have continued my education in programming. I am still practicing HTML and CSS on codecademy.com and have gone on to learn some Javascript. Being at DEV DEV really jump-started my interest in programming and continues to motivate me to continue learning about and exploring the world of developing.

If someone came up to you and said TELL ME WHY I SHOULD BE A PART OF DEV DEV IN 33 WORDS OR LESS, what would you say?

It is an awesome experience, full of hands-on learning and fun! You will build, create, and learn more about technology, and see how easy it is to make your own program or website!

What do you like most about living in Chattanooga right now? What do you think the future holds for Chattanooga?
I love living in Chattanooga. The combination of outdoor opportunities, appreciation for art, and the sense of community that Chattanooga has, makes me proud to call this city home. One of my favorite things about living in this city is having access to the outdoor beauty of Chattanooga and being able to spend time hiking or kayaking. I also love how saturated our city is with art. From the sculptures downtown, to the Hunter Museum, to the weekly Chattanooga market, Chattanooga is such a great place for artists and those who appreciate art. The innovation that Chattanooga has been home to also amazes me. The new technology that has been flooding our city is so exciting and has exposed me to things I never would have dreamed of. As the city continues to develop in the future, I think Chattanooga will continue to be recognized as a great place to enjoy the outdoors, but also as a place where technology and innovation is a part of everyday life.

Applications for this summer’s DEV DEV: summer of code are open until May 31st, and full scholarships are available. To apply, please visit devdev.is . 

“It is an awesome experience, full of hands-on learning and fun! You will build, create, and learn more about technology, and see how easy it is to make your own program or website! ”