Mariella Gradler


Code+Design@Telekom Camp – Coach or be coached?

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I had the opportunity to support Deutsche Telekom's Code+Design Camp as a coach. Over the course of the three days, I learned quite a bit myself from the participants and initiators.

Code+Design@Telekom is a collaboration between the Berlin Code University, the Code & Design Initiative e.V. it incorporates, and Deutsche Telekom. Its aim is to teach digital skills to young people. To better prepare this generation for everyday work in the digital age, agile working methods are used, for example, and the formation of an innovative, collaborative mindset is supported. There are around 40 Code+Design events in Germany and I am reporting from the camp at the Telekom Dome Bonn.

For three days, the young people had the opportunity to go wild in a variety of areas and to work on their own ideas. They received intensive guidance and support from 30 coaches,  I was one of them.

I learned about the camp from a colleague. Since I didn't have any coding or design skills at all, I was quite skeptical at first: can I even support these young people? Nonetheless, the organizers encouraged me to attend the camp as a coach. I followed their advice and chose to support the participants through my experiences with organization and teamwork.

The young people worked on solving problems they sought out themselves. One group wanted to teach Pepper the robot how to use sign language. Another team explored the idea of setting up a sustainable parcel delivery service. It was exciting to see how many different topics were contributed. Personally, I thought the best project was to simplify and digitalize the idea generation process of the camp itself, so we can get started more quickly next year and have more time for the projects – an ingenious idea!

The camp had lots to offer: in addition to numerous workshops on hacking, flying drones, developing apps, and more, there were ten 3D printers, an e-mobility obstacle course for e-scooters and hoverboards, and a Tesla on display. The 3D printers were used to create the individual parts of a drone, for example, which only had to be assembled afterwards.

From coach to participant

One of the project groups taught me which tools and apps I can use to work with the 3D printer. I also attended a beginners' workshop for app development together with one of the 18 project groups. The workshop coach showed us that it's possible to develop an app without any programming language skills. That was a whole new world for me.

In addition to brain jogging, the young people had the opportunity for physical exercise on the second day. An assistant coach of the Telekom Baskets played two hours of basketball with them at the Telekom Dome – a great change from coding. On the third day, people who just couldn't get enough of technology had the chance to compete against the professionals on the SK Gaming team or use one of the many VR goggles to dive into virtual worlds.

The camp also had quite a few exciting guests over the three days. The members of the BohleBots ( team stopped by with their soccer-playing robots, and the inventors of Robo Wunderkind ( – a robot that teaches kids how to program through play – also paid a visit. Our CEO Tim Höttges himself stopped by on the second day and broadcaster WDR reported on his visit to the Telekom Dome ()!

For my part, I was a coach to the teams, but I believe that I learned just as much – if not more – about programming than some of the other participants. Everyone who took part in the camp, whether as a coach, participant, or organizer, was able to learn new things and teach new things to the others – everyone benefitted. It was a worthwhile initiative and a fantastic event!