Katy Lynch and Craig Ulliott have a new project: teaching one billion kids to code

by James Risley
April 4, 2017

Our youngest generation is almost certainly going to grow up learning some elements of coding, but a new startup based in Chicago may have them starting sooner than you’d expect.

Codeverse is creating a custom coding language for children as young as six, and they’re building a physical coding studio for them to put that code to use. Opening this July, Codeverse’s inaugural Lincoln Park campus is a collaborative space filled with hackable objects.

Codeverse was born from the minds of husband and wife duo Craig Ulliott and Katy Lynch, Belly co-founder and former Techweek CEO, respectively. The couple has a mission of training a billion kids to code, a mission that Lynch is confident Codeverse will be able to tackle with their KidScript language.

“Our language uses core concepts of other languages but without the unnecessary complexities for young learners,” she said. “In testing the product with 450 kids around Chicago, every kid has completed a lesson, going through the demo and writing some code. Many have even gone off-script, using the code on their own.”

The whole process starts when kids walk into the Codeverse space, where they pick up an iPad that’s already displaying their name. They use that to code, building programs that can control the studio’s lights, robot arms hanging from the walls and even drones.  

KidScript was built by professionals to strip out the higher-level elements of languages and offer core concepts that are common among the most popular coding languages. These building blocks set kids up for learning other languages down the road. Lynch also said that these lessons will help kids who decide to pursue careers outside computer science.

“Kids need to know how to code just because of the world they grow up in,” she said. “Plus, it’s not just all about coding. While building cool stuff is part of it, these are life skills modern kids will need to know to succeed, like problem solving, critical thinking and creativity.”

Obviously, to teach a billion kids, Codeverse is going to have to expand. But Lynch said massive plans for expansion are already in the works. The company plans to open three more Chicago locations in the first 18 months, followed by Codeverse studios in metropolitan areas around the country.

The company is also working on a SaaS option that lets kids code wherever they are. Other goals include bringing the code into underserved communities to meet the company’s core values of inclusivity and diversity. Lynch really wants any kids with an inkling of interest to learn the basics of coding with KidScript

“This is my legacy,” she said. “We are open to any and every kid.”

Images via Codeverse

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