MindFuel is a national organization, serving Canada as a registered charity since 1990. With a focus on the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, they aim to encourage youth innovation, by developing programs for youth all through both the k-12 space as well as the post secondary space
On January 15th, MindFuel launched their “Crack the Code Challenge”, which will run until the end of March. The challenge aims to teach students new coding skills, as well as put their existing knowledge to the test as they create an application! As of January 18, hundreds of students all across Canada were already participating. One important element of the competition is the leaderboard component, which allows students to work their way through the challenge while they see the benefits of their hard work. They earn points through an in-game point system called “tuples”, meaning that they earn more tuples they advance on the leaderboard. This feature may be a driving factor in motivating students, fostering competition and a strive for excellence.
Before launching the “Crack the Code Challenge”, in January of 2020 in response of the federal minister Bains’s “The C.O.D.E. Initiative”, MindFuel developed “Codingville”, their online teaching platform. This has been in effect throughout Canada all year long, available to every student in Canada for free, keeping the spirit of curiosity and learning alive in students while they struggle through the challenges of learning during a pandemic.
So far, the online platform has introduced coding to over 10,000 students. The platform consists of 3 modules, with a beginner, intermediate, advanced level. All modules are games based, and include 15-20 hours for learning, making for a comprehensive learning environment. “As students move through the modules they move very quickly from having little or no knowledge to by the time they complete the module they are proficient in coding basics in blockly, java, some insights into python”, said CEO of MindFuel Cassy Weber. The “Crack the Code Challenge ” is meant to transition students from codingville online into a real time virtual competition environment, where they are applying all that they’ve learned to build an application.
The benefits of youth in STEM & coding are quite expansive, benefiting both the students in their mental growth and ingenuity, as well as the science and mathematical fields of the next generation as a whole. Canada has a shortage of people with knowledge and skills in the field of call computation solutioning, with a core skill set of computation solutions being coding. For the last 20 years the skill shortage has been growing significantly. Currently, many companies need to work with offshore development houses in other parts of the world in order to access people who know how to code. “When we look at the year, 2025 RBC economic outlook indicates that we will have 600,000 positions that are unfilled within Canada”, said Cassy Weber.
By progressing through the levels of “Codingville”, students will gain the fundamental skills of coding and the practical skill set. What MindFuel has found is that many kids realize where their interest lies only once they are immersed in it, ultimately advising their post secondary career path. “Our short term initiative is to get kids to understand that coding and application development is really about problem solving and being creative”, Cassy Weber said. Thus, when students are exposed to interactive coding education, and are able to move through the development cycle to put together an application, what they are really doing is flexing their creative muscles and growing their innovative skills.
The “Crack the Code Challenge” will be split into 3 rounds, the first from January 15 – February 1, the second from February 8 – March 1, and the third from March 5 – March 26. Each round includes a designated theme to inspire participants’ creativity, prizing for the winners, and overall a competitive and creative education experience.
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