During the pandemic many kids have been forced to become technology dependent. But two tech savvy sisters from Jersey City decided to capitalize on the new-found audience and launched Little Apple Academy, a virtual service that teaches coding for free.
“First we teach them the fundamentals of what the blocks do and how it results in the screen. And then we get more advanced to how we build games and how the mouse controls the characters and how the keys can also control the character,” said 12-year-old creator Sharada Suresh.
“We’re not expecting kids to know advanced mathematics concepts, like parabolas or quadratics,” said 13-year-old creator Harita Suresh.
The sisters started the free lessons in April and have already taught more than 50 kids ages 8 through 11.
“First we started with one student, and then we put our events on Eventbrite and that’s where we got most of our students. So our student come from all over the world the world, including the U.S., U.K., India and Egypt. So far we have taught for over 400 hours and our students have written over 70,000 lines of code,” said Sharada.
The two say they were inspired by their mom, who works in the field of technology, and their dad, who teaches.
“When they were at home they were gravitating toward the TV and they had a lot of time on their hands, so I thought it would be a good idea to encourage them to teach little kids how to code because they started from the age of 5,” said mother Hiranmayee Subramaniam.
“I tried to tell them that if they got bored of this I would be more than happy to jump in teach, and they were like there’s no way you would never be able to sit through one hour of trying to teach five or six kids yelling over each other saying ‘Teacher, teacher I need your attention, I’m stuck on this game, or I’m stuck on this problem,’” said their dad, Suresh Kashyap.
“I work in my mom’s office, and my sister works in the other room with a table and setup. We each took separate classes so we can have more students,” said Sharada.
One-on-one classes come with a small fee, but 100% of the proceeds go to charity.
“We’ve helped NJ Bite and the Mary House Emergency Food Pantry of the Our Lady of Sorrows Church,” said Sharada.
“It may look like it’s all about coding robots ,but coding is around us everywhere. For example, your computers, your smartphones, your smartwatches, all of that are made through codes, Safari, Microsoft. If you want to work in technology, all these companies, they require you to know about code,” said Harita.
The sisters say this is just the beginning. Their future business plan includes working on creating an app for the nonprofit — big ideas for two girls seeing and then chasing their dream.
Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multiplatform public media initiative that provides a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by the JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.