Samaira Mehta is quite the accomplished young lady – at just 8 years old, she’s already created a board game, held workshops, and spoken to various communities in an effort to teach young kids the fundamentals of coding. “I first played [my game] CoderBunnyz with my 4 year old brother and saw him get very excited,” Samaira says. “I saw that I could really teach young kids and get them excited about coding; that’s when I started taking workshops and teaching kids using my game.”
Her board game, CoderBunnyz, is a smash hit with her peers. Simply put, it’s a board game “to get young kids excited about coding in a fun way.”
We asked Samaira to give us a little background on CoderBunnyz and the inspiration behind it.
The Tempest: What inspired you to start Coder Bunnyz?
Samaira Mehta: Creating CoderBunnyz has been quite a journey. My love for coding, playing board games, bunnies, and my younger brother have all played part in inspiring and shaping CoderBunnyz.
First, let me tell you how the seeds of CoderBunnyz were sown. One day, I finished playing board games with my parents, and when they got bored (actually, they just kept losing and didn’t want to play anymore), I went to the computer to do a little coding. I thought to myself, “today has been an amazingly cool day. I’ve done two of my most favorite things – coding and board games – and if I mix these two, I’m sure I could create something really cool.” After all, there are so many people who learn real estate ideas from Monopoly, and spelling from Scrabble. So I thought – why not teach other people how to code?
I added my favorite animal – a bunny – to the name, and that’s where I got “Coderbunnyz!”
So, how does CoderBunnyz teach kids about coding and algorithms?
Simple. Kids roll the dice and pick up CoderBunnyz code cards to help the bunny reach the destination. Advanced-level kids also observe and write their algorithms after the game. In the process, they learn the fundamentals of coding: sequencing, conditional, loop, iterations, functions, debugging and more.
CoderBunnyz is created by a kid, for kids. I mixed my love for board games and passion for coding to create CoderBunnyz. I’m spreading my love for coding by conducting workshops at libraries and tech events all over Silicon Valley. So far, I’ve done over 30 workshops teaching over 1,100 kids.
What kind of problems does Coder Bunnyz solve?
Coding is starting to become an important part of life. Coding is everywhere – in your phone, microwave, TV and even satellite. CoderBunnyz helps get kids started early on coding with a playful board game. Kids don’t necessarily know they’re learning coding, but the board game is building their problem solving and programming fundamentals.
Coding is especially becoming an important part of STEM (Science Technology Engineering + Math) learning. CoderBunnyz helps in STEM by teaching all of the logic behind basic programming and coding under the guise of the playful board game. Within no time, kids will learn coding fundamentals (basic and advanced) while having family fun. Turns out all programming language like Scratch, Python and Java use the same concepts. Once a kid learns the fundamentals, it becomes much easier for them to learn any coding language.
If you had to give one piece of advice to a girl your age interested in technology/science, what would it be?
My advice would be for all my fellow girls to explore, observe and ask questions. Logical thinking and problem solving is very important and that’s something that we do every day. If you are interested in technology and science there are so many programs to get involved with today. Companies like Facebook, Google, Oracle, Microsoft and others are doing so much to help girls in technology.
I personally had the opportunity to do multiple workshops at Google, and I see so many girls excited about STEM. So go ahead, explore STEM programs in your area! I guarantee that you will find groups and programs in your local libraries, clubs in school and in the communities. Find the one that matches your interests and pursue it.
Where do you see Coder Bunnyz headed in the future?
I have been doing workshops at schools, libraries, and tech events in order to get young kids excited about coding. I want to see CoderBunnyz in the hands of every young kid at home and in schools all over the world! It’s a playful way of introducing them to STEM and programming that their parents and teachers would love to get them started with.
If you had a day completely free and to yourself, what would you do?
Well, I would do some coding, study with my dad, play with my brother, take a short nap with my mom, and then read, draw, write, and watch TV. I have to keep myself busy! 🙂