How Teens Are Using Tech to Make Cool Stuff
There's a much smarter way to spend Valentine's Day than crying over The Notebook. (Again.)
Five years ago, coding was the kind of thing you only saw in dude-driven hacker films. But these days, it's pretty much the coolest language you can learn (apologies to my high school Spanish teacher). Understanding HTML and CSS and other complicated acronyms that might inspire an initial WTF? is more than just a gold star on your resume; it also allows you to build actually-cool stuff, no toolbox required.
Today, Google's girl-centric tech initiative Made with Code is launching a rad new project called Coded with Love. The pop-up site lets you make your own animated heart—basically your dream emoji, come to life—and then share it with your friends. It's like a homemade Valentine, but better, because you don't have to deal with paper cuts, Elmer’s glue, or wayward glitter. (My desk is still covered in glitter fabric paint from V-day a few years ago; the residual mess lasted much longer than any boyfriend ever has.)
Coded with Love has already gotten the cosign from four coders we love: Qiqi Ren, Jenny Huang, Sloane Sambuco, and Moe Sunami. The teen tech geniuses, who met at Phillips Academy Andover, decided to make an app that helps share anonymous positivity in schools (a place that, like the internet as a whole, is often burdened with too many bad vibes). "When we surveyed our school, only 11% of responders said that they think we live in a 'very kind community.' This troubling disconnect between peers is what prompted us to create PraisePop," said 18-year-old Sambuco. "We believe that an interface dedicated to spreading positivity and making people smile is integral to the well-being and happiness of communities."
Coding, whether it's making your own animated heart or an entire app, has the power to spark big-time change. So don't let the hard work—or the boys—hold you back. "Questioning whether I belonged in an environment of devising algorithms, writing iterative for-loops, and googling compiler error messages with the males troubled me for years. I want young girls interested in pursuing technology to never second-guess their passion," said Sambuco. Seventeen-year-old Huang backed her up. "If you take the time to realize, 'Wow, I am awesome!,' then it shouldn’t matter how others perceive you. When someone doesn’t take you seriously as a teen girl, show them your strengths and prove them wrong."
After all, why break hearts when you can code them?