Google Canada software engineer and UVic alumnus Nav Jagpal

Google staffer inspires UVic campers

Engineering and Computer Science building at the University of Victoria fills with song in effort to teach coding

The tune of Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off unexpectedly filters through air of the Engineering and Computer Science building at the University of Victoria. Inside a third-floor classroom a group of Grade 5 and 6 students are learning to code.

“We get to program computers and we learn about coding. It’s fun to be able to code,” said Sophie Lobmeier, 10.

“It’s also fun to know more than your parents,” adds Katie Tinis, who celebrated her 10th birthday Aug. 21.

Science Venture Codemakers Camp – powered by Google and Actua – is about inspiring young people from around the world not just to use technology, but to create it. The program creates a fun environment for kids to learn and engage in science, technology, engineering and math at an early age.

The youth hailing from across Greater Victoria used multiple programs through the week, making a cat move across the computer screen, and now their instructors dance to the modified Swift tune with lyrics such as “I just wanna code, code, code.”

“They’re describing the dance moves. They’re giving commands, like they would do on the computer,” explained Laura Bouwman, manager of member services for Actua Canada.

The youth were also joined by Google Canada software engineer and UVic alumnus Nav Jagpal. He currently works to keep the Internet safe with Google Canada. He’s on the Safe Browsing team that develops technology to help identify unsafe websites, warns users and webmasters of malware and phishing, and enables users to protect themselves online.

Jagpal, who grew up in Trail and is now based in Montreal, is happy to be back on the West Coast.

“It’s cool to be on campus and in B.C.,” he said.

From 2001 to 2006 or so he attended and worked at the university. Through the co-op program he started at the help desk and finished his UVic work as a senior technical analyst until applying, and earning, a position with Google more than eight years ago.

Jagpal likens the Science Venture code camp to the exposure he and his coworkers garnered during their youth.

“We were exposed to technology at a very young age, and encouraged to explore creativity,” he said. While nine- and 10-year-olds tend to be top consumers of today’s technology, that might not always mean they’re taught to explore and create utilizing the tech tools now available, Jagpal said.

He came west to work with campers to develop computer science skills through the interactive Code the World dance activity where the campers apply knowledge of basic computer commands and functions using dance choreography and music video production. He remembers that excitement of making something physically move as a youth.

“My goal is coming back and giving what people provided me with,” he said, noting various teachers along the way recognized his capabilities and encouraged him.

He recalls those early days when it was exhilarating to connect two computers. “Now I’m working on a team where the number of machines my code works on is crazy,” he said.

“It’s so exciting to see these kids. I wish I had something like this when I was young,” Jagpal said. “I’m excited to see what these guys will be able to do in the future.”

 

Just Posted

Dix says B.C. remains focused on fighting youth overdoses in wake of teen’s death

Elliot Eurchuk’s parents say he died at his Oak Bay home after taking street drugs

Parents grieving teen’s overdose death say it started with opioid prescription

Elliot Eurchuk, 16, died at his Oak Bay home Friday, after taking street drugs

Central Saanich, Tsawout taking part in reconciliation ceremony

Blanket event Monday to help foster mutual trust and respect

‘On the Cusp’ debuts at Victoria store front

Camosun Visual Arts students present new exhibit

Retired Gordon Head teacher not ready to ride into the sunset

86-year-old keeping active with marathon paddling trek and week-long cycling tour

Spring Home Show this weekend in Colwood

West Shore Parks and Recreation will be transformed to showcase everything home related

LOCAL FLAVOUR: Taking the sting out of nourishing nettles

Linda Geggie For the Saanich News When you think of nettles you… Continue reading

Final week for ALR input

Public consultation process closes April 30

‘When everybody leaves: Counselling key to help Humboldt move on after bus crash

Dealing with life after a tragedy can be the worst part following a loss

Central Saanich, Tsawout taking part in reconciliation ceremony

Blanket event Monday to help foster mutual trust and respect

Ballet Victoria soirée fundraiser a prelude to final show of season

Company winds up its 15th season in the city with Peter Pan next month

Half-naked shooter guns down four, runs away in Nashville Waffle House shooting

Nashville police say they are looking for Travis Reinking in connection with the shooting

Child’s body found in river downstream from where boy went missing during flood

Three-year-old Kaden Young was swept out of his mother’s arms in February

Most Read