NewBoCo logo and return to home page link

Why Tiny Techies and CoderDojo continue to matter

As computer science becomes a greater focus in Iowa classrooms, educators want young students to get as much of a head start as possible. 

Two programs from NewBoCo – Tiny Techies and CoderDojo – help with that goal. 

Support from Google

Google announced in November that it had awarded $10,000 to NewBoCo’s Tiny Techies professional development program, which supports Pre-K through 2nd grade teachers with training on foundational computer science concepts. Tiny Techies workshops help teachers work with “Squishy Circuit” materials, basic robotics, pattern recognition, and more.

“Google is proud to support the Tiny Techies program because early childhood education lays a foundation for future success,” said Shawdee Monroe, Google’s Tech Education Outreach Lead. “The program helps provide the building blocks for computer science skills in an innovative way, and supports the educators who teach these young learners as the critical first step.”

By teaching the fundamentals of computer science, Tiny Techies helps to get students ready for the careers of tomorrow. 

Yet there are no screens involved. No laptops. No iPads. Instead, organizers say, Tiny Techies helps students build computational thinking and problem-solving skills.

“Tiny Techies is approachable, creative, and gives educators the confidence to help our youngest learners think like computer scientists,” says NewBoCo’s Director of K-12 Education, Samantha Dahlby.

The Tiny Techies program was created by NewBoCo’s K-12 Education Team to support early childhood educators to integrate computer science into their teaching.

“It totally changed my teaching,” said Lori Randall, a second grade teacher at Osage Community School District in Osage, Iowa. “Tiny Techies promotes engagement of all levels of learners.”

The creation of the Tiny Techies case study and video library will take place in 2024.

Exploring CoderDojo

Meanwhile, NewBoCo’s CoderDojo program is a free STEAM offering  for K-5 students. Held every first, second, and third Saturday, CoderDojo features rotating stations with drone flying, microscopes, and more. Students aren’t placed in a classroom and given instructions by a teacher; instead, each activity is self-guided, helping  kids to learn at their own pace and explore only what interests them.

Dahlby said the loose approach at CoderDojo often leads to surprises for parents, as they discover their children have interests they never knew about.

“I’ve definitely gotten comments from parents that they’re happy their kids have found something to get excited about,” she said. “Later they’ll ask for gift ideas, or camps, that can enable their kids to pursue something even further.”

Andy Fiedler, NewBoCo’s K-12 Student Program Coordinator, said he sees similar excitement from the students who keep returning to CoderDojo. 

“You really do see kids open up a lot more, the more you work with them,” he says. 

Assistant K-12 Education Director Alison Mohr says that while Tiny Techies can give young children a good foundation for computer science classes later on, it also provides them with skills they will need no matter what they’re working on. 

“They are more prepared for any subject,” she says. “This program really focuses on thinking skills and problem-solving, and the skills that kids will need in order to be successful everywhere. So it helps them in computer science, yes, but it goes much further than that.” 


Hear Andy Fiedler and Samantha Dahlby talk more about Tiny Techies on the Iowa Innovation Podcast.

Share with a friend or colleague: