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  • Writer's pictureSTEAMatWORK4KIDS

Jelani Nelson Stores Tons of Info in Small Spaces and Times

Updated: Dec 18, 2021

Meet Dr. Jelani Nelson

Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at University of California, Berkeley

Project : Software Coding and founder of Addis Coder Camp

Billions of people use Facebook sites. People around the world make new websites every minute. Computers have to store all that information. But no computer can hold more and more and more information. Dr. Jelani Nelson has studied that problem. He has written computer code that “sketches” the information. His code tells the computer how to fit tons of data in a small space.

Jelani loves coding. To solve a problem, you first have to study it. Once you understand the problem, the fun part begins. You get to be creative. Think outside the box. Find the best, most efficient solution. Jelani loves writing code that solves a problem. He loves watching the code run quickly on his computer.

Can you find Ethiopia on this map of Africa?

While growing up in the U.S. Virgin Islands Jelani taught himself to code. When he was 11, he read a book on HTML coding. He started making websites for his family and friends. Now he is a professor at the University of California. He teaches college students to code. But Jelani does more than that. He teaches high school students too. In 2012 Jelani started a summer coding camp in Ethiopia, Africa.

Jelani’s mother is Ethiopian. His father is African-American. In 2011 he was going to visit family in Ethiopia for 6 weeks. He decided to do something while he was there. He decided to start a coding camp. His “Addis Coder” camp has already taught over 500 high school students.

The students come from all over Ethiopia. Many of them have never been outside their town or region before. They meet instructors from all over the world. It’s very eye-opening for them. Many of them don’t know anything about computer science when camp starts. Four weeks later they can solve college problems. We knew that Jelani could fit lots of information into small spaces. Now we know that he can fit lots of information into short times too!

Daily Bus Ride from Campus to Guest House
Professor Boaz explaining

Students Working on Quiz 2

Photo Credits

Dr. Jenali Nelson profile: photo credit to Yaphet Teklu

Map of Africa: This Photo is licensed under CC BY-SA

Pictures of students at Addis Coder camp:

Permission by Jelani Nelson

Read these books to learn more about coding . . .


(Look on your library's shelves numbered 005 to find coding books.)

by Jon Woodcock

(Scratch is the easiest language to learn.)

Suitable for complete beginners, this educational book for kids gives readers a solid understanding of programming. Teach them to create their own projects from scratch, preparing them for more complex programming languages like Python.

Techy kids will familiarize themselves with Scratch 3.0 using this beginner's guide to scratch coding. Difficult coding concepts become fun and easy to understand, as budding programmers build their own projects using the latest release of the world's most popular programming language for beginners.

Make a Dino Dance Party or create your own electronic birthday cards for friends and family. Build games, simulations, and mind-bending graphics as you discover the awesome things computer programmers can do with Scratch 3.0.

Learn more about John Woodcock here or visit his Amazon author page.


by Adrienne B. Tacke

(You can do more with Python coding.)

Learning to code isn’t as hard as it sounds―you just have to get started! Coding for Kids: Python starts kids off right with 50 fun, interactive activities that teach them the basics of the Python programming language. From learning the essential building blocks of programming to creating their very own games, kids will progress through unique lessons packed with helpful examples―and a little silliness!

Kids will follow along by starting to code (and debug their code) step by step, seeing the results of their coding in real time. Activities at the end of each chapter help test their new knowledge by combining multiple concepts. For young programmers who really want to show off their creativity, there are extra tricky challenges to tackle after each chapter. All kids need to get started is a computer and this book.

Visit Adrienne Tache's Amazon author page.


by Camille McCue, PhD

(You can move to easy to hard with this book.)

Coding is quickly becoming an essential academic skill, right up there with reading, writing, and arithmetic. This book is an ideal way for young learners ages 8-13 who want more coding knowledge than you can learn in an hour, a day, or a week.

Written by a classroom instructor with extensive experience teaching technology skills to kids as young as five, this book teaches the steps and logic needed to write code, solve problems, and create fun projects based in Scratch and JavaScript. This 2nd Edition is fully updated to feature only free programming languages available online to everyone.

  • Use simple coding tools ideal for teaching kids and beginners

  • Learn the evergreen concepts of writing computer code

  • Build game apps and cool gadgets you can show off to friends

. . . and visit these websites

about coding and computers.


What most kids don't teach (interviews with famous coders)

Scratch: Imagine, Program, Share from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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