Hackworth is a software development company whose purpose is to make programming relevant to the interests of children of all backgrounds. We're creating tools and games that apply programming to domains with wide appeal, not just programming for programming's sake. Our tools are designed for learners, not professionals, so rather than performance and general-purpose applicability, we optimize for pedagogy and suitability to task.
Computing isn't for everyone (yet)
Pre-university schools and volunteer-driven organisations have made wonderful progress towards the goal of increasing diversity in computing, but there's a long way to go. Female and under-represented minority students still comprise a small percentage of primary and secondary school pupils who choose to take computing-related subjects, particularly computer science.
Hackworth was founded to build a team of practitioners who believe that increasing diversity in computing starts with broadening its appeal to children.
Relevance is important
Research shows that students in introductory programming classes are more likely to stick with it when they understand its relevance to their personal interests, career goals, and to society in general. Children may not fully appreciate how useful programming can be outside its typical computing applications. The more that children experience nontraditional uses of programming, the more likely they may be to take an interest in it.
Hackworth are exploring novel ways to apply programming to children's interests, from playing games to more serious issues such as social justice.
Design for learning
Most programming languages are designed for industry use, so children may find them intimidating or opaque. Teaching languages address some of these issues through better error messages or block-based programming, but even those have limited means for visualizing how programs generate dynamic processes, which is key to building a mental model of computation.
Hackworth are taking a new approach to teaching languages, focusing especially on ways to help children visualize and reason about computational processes.