by Joseph Young
A group of elementary students, including eight-year-old computer prodigy Seth Yee, at the Wooranna Park Primary School in Australia work on programming ‘WoorannaCoin’ under the guidance of former network engineer Kieran Nolan, which teaches them methods of developing software behind Bitcoin, including the blockchain.
The family of Yee permanently relocated from Singapore to the Dandenong North suburb in Melbourne, Australia, to provide a better ecosystem for Seth, who has proven his talents in coding and software development over the past few months.
According to Seth’s father Ray, the family first discovered Seth’s extraordinary talents when he completed the development of virtual spaceships on a NASA program at the age of six. Two years later, the family permanently relocated to Australia, where Seth met former network engineer Kieran Nolan and completed the development of a cryptocurrency along with grade five and six students.
WoorannaCoin, a cryptocurrency developed on top of a platform allowing young developers like Seth to create prototypes and mock alternatives to Bitcoin, has no actual value. But, Nolan, teacher at Wooranna Park Primary School, explained in an interview with The Standard that the cryptocurrency development program was crucial for the school’s elementary school students and computer prodigy Seth in understanding encryption, cryptography, and security.
By building a transparent voting system, the young students are learning about the blockchain with a hands-on approach. More importantly, Nolan emphasized that the development of a cryptocurrency was important as it also teaching the next generation financial literacy, a frequented criticism of the education system in many countries.
“I think it is going to be as important as coding in schools in the coming years. It's a way of teaching financial literacy, digital literacy... it teaches students how networks talk to each other. If students don't have these skills now, schools are doing them a disservice. If you only look at numeracy and literacy, that won't get someone a job in the future, they need to have these skills,” said Nolan.
The Wooranna Park Primary School has already gained recognition from the technology industry and community. In his first visit, US-based software developer and investor Andrew Kwon donated 21 bitcoin ($30,000 at the time) to the school, after recognizing the talent pool of young developers and coders the school housed. According to The Standard, Kwon’s investment was the first bitcoin donation to an Australian school, and on top of that, Kwon donated computer hardware for the new high-tech center, virtual reality goggles, 3D printers, Microsoft HoloLens, programmable robots, and drones.
In just over three years, the blockchain and Bitcoin industries have evolved into multi-billion dollar markets. Major conglomerates and large-scale companies including IBM, Microsoft, and Visa, are actively looking for blockchain and Bitcoin developers but according to various surveys and reports, the industry is struggling to find talents within the blockchain sector.
At the DTCC's Fintech Symposium in March 2017, Linux Foundation-led Hyperledger project executive director Brian Behlendorf stated, "the tech recruiting is very thin. So, recruiting is hard.”
Some analysts and experts went as far to describe the talent gap and lack of developers within the blockchain sector as the two main factors preventing the mainstream adoption of blockchain technology.
“It is clear that many financial services firms are either seriously considering how to utilize blockchain within their organization or are already putting this technology into practice. However, as with any new technology, there are challenges to be overcome. Our survey shows that recruiting the right people is one such challenge, regulation is another, and technical considerations related to the technology itself another,” Synechron CEO Faisal Husain stated.
The emergence of young minds and developers who are exposed to the blockchain at an early age, including Seth, will allow the Bitcoin ecosystem and blockchain-based projects to evolve exponentially.