18 October, 2015
What does the average 15-year-old do with her free time? Most teenagers are hanging out with friends, talking on their smart phones or playing games on their computer. But Swetha Prabakaran is different. She enjoys spending her time making the use of technology easier for all.
It's called coding. So exactly what is that?
"Coding, in the most simplest terms, is just you tell a computer to do what you want. It's just like telling a dog to sit. You're telling a computer to do something and just like we write in English a ‘to do' list or directions, you write a language for computers."
Swetha Prabakaran loves to code and she likes the details of how to teach computers to make life easier for people.
"I focus on computer science, specifically in application development with phones and websites on computers, developing little games or applications that make other people's lives easier."
A junior at top-rated Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, in Virginia, Swetha Prabakaran learned about coding while taking a computer programming class.
"I came to TJ and my first year I decided to take a class in computer science and see how it was, just to figure out whether I liked it. And I really like how with computer science I can be really creative and have a lot of flexibility to do the things that I want to do with it and build something new also help people with the things that I was creating."
Swetha is the founder of Everybody Code Now! The non-profit works to empower the next generation of youth to become engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs. Everybody Code Now operates in 12 states and in the near future will be partnering with schools in India and Ghana.
"The non-profit works with students, currently in various states, to bring introductory computer science lessons and exposure to technology to students through their schools and partnerships with teachers.
"So if you are in elementary school, you're learn about how computer science is used on websites and games and lots of other things that we use every day but don't really think of as coding. And we're discussing partnerships with other countries mainly in India and we're also talking about partnership in Ghana and Bangladesh, which we hope to launch within the next year."
In September of this year, Swetha was honored at the White House as one of 11 young women named "champions of change," for her work as the founder of Everybody Code Now. She was one of two 15-year-olds to receive the award.
Swetha is working on an app which will help other non-profit organizations.
"So I'm working on a couple of apps right now that might help local non-profit organizations reach more people or make it easier for people to find such non-profits through a websites or apps because everybody has a phone now and so we want to be able to make them these super tools that you can use for anything."
Swetha says he finds teaching others to code satisfying. She says she will continue to encourage other girls to give coding a try and see the power coding gives you right at their fingertips.
I'm Marsha James.
Marsha James wrote this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.
Words in This Story
coding – n. what makes it possible for people to create computer software, apps and websites
empower – v. to give power to someone
various – adj. used to refer to several different or many different things
app (short for application) – n. a software program