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UK teen launches Thinkspace, seeks to bring software development to high schools around the world


Thinkspace, an organization created by sixteen-year-old James Anderson, seeks to “inspire the next generation of app developers” through dedicated coding zones in high schools across the globe. Anderson formally launched Thinkspace this month with campuses in Plymouth and Northern Ireland.

Anderson first came up with the idea for Thinkspace when he became disappointed with the UK educational system’s approach to computer information and related topics. Rather than attempt to change the curriculum, Anderson sought to work around it by creating “Thinkspaces” within schools.

A Thinkspace is essentially a room filled with computers and mobile devices with which students are encouraged to build whatever software they can imagine. The UK Thinkspace, located at Plymouth’s Devonport High School for Boys, contains Android devices, iPod touches, iPads, Blackberrys, and Windows Phone devices, all connected to an assortment of Mac and PC computers.

The flagship UK campus cost around £10,000, but Anderson says that almost any budget will suffice. The goal is not necessarily to build state-of-the-art development labs, but rather to provide students with a place to go in order to learn to code, collaborate on projects, and just build software.

Any school interested in establishing a Thinkspace is welcome to join the program. The only requirement is that a teacher from the school join Thinkspace Social—a development-oriented social network created by Anderson—and begin inviting students from the school. Anderson told 9to5Mac that the organization is already looking to expand internationally into Australia, Israel, Singapore, and the United States.

The Thinkspace project has gained the backing of many well-known public figures, such as Google SVP of Engineering Vic Gundotra, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, Virgin founder Richard Branson, and top executives from other companies like Microsoft.

Anderson told Wired that he envisions Thinkspaces as a student-driven program where experienced coders can help educate the next generation of software designers and developers. He hopes to see the program spread not only across Europe, but around the world.

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