About

Pi à la code is a project I started in earnest in July 2013 to teach underprivileged teens in rural India how to code using the Raspberry Pi. My blog is about the adventure of learning and teaching coding to kids using cool technology. How did it all start ?

Early in 2012 my middle school held an app competition for teams of kids to make a mobile app on any subject that would get judged by real VC’s at the Gordon Moore Foundation. My team and I built an app to teach us kids about the civil war and called it iCivilWar. We used Corona and Balsamiq and it had several levels with prizes once you cross a level. Compared to the boring and dry way that I learned computer programming in Bangalore, this was really cool (we won the competition!) and I was hooked.

Then, at the Bay Area Maker Faire in Summer 2012, I was wandering around the booths looking for cool designs and I came across the Raspberry Pi. It is a little computer, about the size of a phone, built to teach programming to kids. In the Silicon Valley and the US we have many opportunities to learn coding, but in my travels to rural India I found that kids there have no exposure to this exciting world. I wanted to change this. Kids there weren't getting to mess around with the cool technology and programs that we in the Silicon Valley get to use. My idea was to take this new technology to a place that would otherwise never get to use it: rural India.

A tiny computer that fit in the palm of my hand built to teach programming to us kids! I initially decided to teach myself and my students python, since it is a high-level programming language with many applications. It has less syntax and complications than other languages, which makes it easier for me to use to teach. I made a Python Curriculum starting off with the basics of Python and incorporating exercises I found online, in books, or created myself. Then I came up with an instruction booklet for first time programmers, and raised money via gofundme for the Raspberry Pi Python Kits and it's peripherals by creating teaching sets. In the summer of 2014 the excitement began when I visited Kasauli, a rural village in North India and taught python to a group of 10 students that were my age.

After the summer I continued to talk to the students through skype lessons once every couple of weeks. Over the course of the 2014-2015 school year, I also began to play around with web programming and websites. I came across a program called Google Coder, which uses the raspberry pi to teach html, css, javascript, and node.js. This led me to develop a second curriculum, centered around web programming and Coder. in the 2015 summer, at the TechShop in Redwood City I built a kid-friendly case for the Coder-Pi and took it with me when I went back to Kasauli, India. This time I expanded the Python course by 10 more students, and introduced the Google Coder web programming to a class of 20 kids.

Then later this summer, I taught Coder on the Pi to a group of underprivileged kids here in the Bay Area at the yearly Bullis Boosters camp, the same middle school where my team and I first built the iCivilWar app!

Along the way in 2014 I joined the She++ fellowship, and found so many girls like me who loved coding and cool tech. And in 2015 after returning from Kasauli I participated in the 2015 Girls Who Code at VMWare and made incredible new friends who are on the same journey.

I have loved how the PALC project has come together and am looking to the next adventure it can lead me to!