Chicago couple determined to teach 1 billion kids to code

Husband-wife tech dynamos Katy Lynch and Craig Ulliott have their sights set on teaching one billion kids to code. And that goal just moved a step closer as the pair announced a $10 million investment in their company, Codeverse, to add new locations in Naperville and Wilmette.

Lynch says she sees it as their life’s work to bring coding to all kids.

She is convinced coding is the language of the future — and required computer science classes in high school aren’t going to cut it. Kids as young as 6 need to start learning coding, just as they are learning to read and write, she says.

“We do think that technology is the future, it’s disrupting every industry, it’s going to impact these children’s jobs in the future so getting them started young is pretty crucial,” Lynch says.

Lynch and Ulliott have known each other for about 10 years, when she worked with him at one of his tech companies. Though Lynch says she saw first-hand how powerful technology could be, a Tech Week event in 2015 showing a documentary on the coding gender gap inspired Lynch to do something to keep girls interested in technology beyond middle school. The answer, they believe, is Codeverse, which is open to boys and girls.

Codeverse uses its own coding language, KidScript, built on the principles of adult coding languages, such as JavaScript, but easier to learn and understand for young kids, ages 6-12.

For a majority of students, the first thing they do in the studio is program the lights, making them flash, turn, strobe or change colors in just 10 minutes. “For a young kid that has never done coding before, they kind of have that a-ha moment of what’s possible,” Lynch says.

They go on to create games and apps.

Not only are they learning coding, but they learn problem-solving, how to collaborate with others while building confidence and that’s it’s OK to fail, break things and make mistakes in a code and fix them, she says.

Naperville and Wilmette make sense, Lynch says, because they are especially family friendly. Codeverse is not new to Naperville, however, because Naperville schools piloted Codeverse before the Lincoln Park location opened.

Starting this fall, Codeverse’s Naperville location will be in the Main Street Promenade and the Wilmette location will be on Green Bay Road.

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