The Flatiron School

How to Hack a Development Environment and Teach High Schoolers to Code on a $200 Chromebook

This post was written by Tristan Siegel, a Ruby Instructor at Flatiron School. In just a few weeks, he developed a way to turn $200 Chromebooks into ready-to-code programming machines. Read Tristan’s original blog post on the experience right here.

We designed Flatiron After School to teach high schoolers the same skills professional developers use every day. A big part of this is getting our students really comfortable navigating a real programming environment—using software that any developer would use. But how can we make sure all of our students have access to the same technology when some of them don’t have access to or just can’t afford a laptop?

Any student in our course who needs one can use an Acer C720 series Chromebook for free throughout the semester. We’ve hacked them into ready-to-code programming machines with an Ubuntu install script based on an awesome one developed by Codestarter.

Our script automatically installs everything students need to start learning to program, including Linux, Ruby, Git, Sublime, Postgres, and decked out Bashrc for the command line—absolutely no kids stuff. Best of all, it turns a $200 Chromebook into just as good a way for beginners to learn to code as a $1,300 MacBook.

The script is Open Source. We know from seeing so many people learn that, with a good teacher and a lot of determination, anyone can be a programmer. Hopefully, this software will help people learn how to code, even if they don’t know where to start or can’t afford an expensive laptop. To give it a spin, fork our Repo!

We hope our custom Chromebooks will help high schoolers understand what becomes possible when they learn to code—that a computer isn’t just a way to consume media. It’s a tool to help them express their own passions and creativity. Know a high schooler who’d love to code with us? Learn more or enroll now at

Teaching High Schoolers Code At Flatiron After School: A Q&A With Program Director Lyel Resner

Lyel Resner is a native New Yorker and the Director of K12 Education at Flatiron School. Lyel and a team of amazing teachers will be leading Flatiron After School—our brand new coding program for high school students. To kick off what is sure to be an exciting journey, he’s answered a few questions on what the program is all about.

What is Flatiron After School?

Flatiron After School is a 12-week long coding program for high school students. They’ll learn the fundamentals of web development the same way adults in our immersive programs do, regardless of how much code they know coming in. Our curriculum and differentiated teaching methods are designed to support, engage, and challenge students at all levels of experience.

Classes are held every week for a total of four hours, either after school or on the weekends. By the end of the program, students will be able to build dynamic web applications using Ruby, Sinatra, HTML, CSS and even some JavaScript. These final projects can reflect what students are actually interested in building—maybe an app that texts them the weather and outfit recommendations or one that helps them figure out what movie to watch.

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Learn How to Build Android Apps: Announcing Android for Developers

We’re so excited to announce the launch of Android for Developers—a 10 week course designed to teach developers how to program for Android.

About Android for Developers

The course is built from market demand and based on Google’s set of requirements for Android design and application. In 10 weeks, developers with at least one year of object-oriented programming experience will learn the design patterns, frameworks, and environments necessary to be proficient Android developers—and have something to show for it. Students will also build and deploy at least one app to the Google Play Store.

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Flatiron School At New York Tech Meetup

Last night’s New York Tech Meetup was a really great time. Not only did we get to see awesome demos from Makr and Bubble, we totally got to see Mayor de Blasio introduce New York City’s first ever CTO Minerva Tantoco. Crazy, right? Here are some highlights:

1. Flatiron Co-founder Avi explained why we’ve started teaching high schoolers to code.

In a nutshell, coding is a skill that can transcend all sorts of boundaries and empower high schoolers with new ways to engage with the things they love. Avi also shared this video and announced Flatiron After School, our new coding program for high schoolers.

Interested in enrolling? Learn more or post why you love programming on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram with #WhyICode for a chance to win two free spots! More contest info right here.

2. The amazing Julia Taitz, a senior in high school and Flatiron grad, talked about why she learned to code and demoed her app.

Julia demoed the app her project team built while they were students at Flatiron School. Modern Mind is a collaborative drawing app based on the game Exquisite Corpse that lets users make art together. She also took this selfie, and made everyone smile.

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New To Tech? Amanda Peyton of Grand St and Etsy Shares Some Advice on Landing Your First Coding Job

Just started coding and thinking of working in tech? Amanda Peyton, founder of gadget marketplace Grand St and now a part of Etsy’s team, has some advice for brand new engineers looking to land their first job. She stopped by Flatiron School to talk through questions she always gets about how to start working in tech. Here’s what we learned:

Big company for structure, startup for speed

If you’re new to tech, and thinking about where to start looking for jobs, look to yourself first. What you want out of your next job should guide your decision—are you the artist who wants to construct something perfect or push features out of the door?

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From Flatiron School to Y Combinator: Advice from Danny Olinsky, Co-founder of

Once a Sales Director at a B2B software company, Danny Olinsky always had product ideas but never had the technical skills to make them happen. After graduating from Flatiron School’s Web Development program, he co-founded and headed off to Y Combinator.

Currently: Co-founder of (YCS13), Flatiron Web Development Alum
Previously: Director of Sales at Argyle Social

Nearly a year and half out of Flatiron, Danny shared with us his experience learning to code and his path to becoming a co-founder of StatusPage. Here’s his advice for new coders and budding entrepreneurs:

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#WhyICode: Win Two Seats In Flatiron After School

Here’s a chance to win two spots in Flatiron After School*—a new coding conservatory for high schoolers in the New York City area.

Starting in September, students in will learn the tools professional developers use every day—that’s HTML, CSS, Javascript, and Ruby. By the end of the course, they’ll be able to build and deploy real, working apps.

Here’s the best part: the winner of our #WhyICode contest will get to invite a friend to enroll for free. To enter, just post about why you’d like to start coding on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook with the hashtag #WhyICode. We’ll do the rest. Enter now!

All courses are taught at The Flatiron School campus at 11 Broadway in downtown NYC. The program is led by Director Lyel Resner, Lead Instructors Victoria Friedman, Daniel Fenjves, and a number of teachers specializing in web development. Learn more.

* No purchase necessary; void where prohibited. Participants under 18 years old must have parental approval to claim prize. Starts now, drawing at 12PM on September 22, 2014. To enter, tweet, Instagram, or post on Facebook why you want to learn to code under #WhyICode. Winners to be chosen randomly and announced under #WhyICode. Each drawing will receive 2 seats in our AS program. Value of each AS seat is $2,500.

Tomorrow: A Swift Start

Don’t forget! We’ve teamed up with Orta Therox of CocoaPods and Artsy to host A Swift Start—a one day iOS conference. Designers and developers from companies like Tumblr, Etsy, Artsy, Meetup, and Kickstarter will be stopping by all day to talk about the ups and downs of learning and building for iOS.

Why have an iOS conference?

A Swift Start is about trying to reconcile the differences between masters of the craft and people just starting out. Speakers will give technical and non-technical talks about what they know now, and what they wish they’d known back at the beginning. Hopefully, it will make getting started, and taking those first few steps easier.

Hope to see you there! Register now to attend.

High Schoolers Make Awesome Coders

Flatiron Summer School was an absolute blast. In just two weeks, more than 100 high school students went from little to no coding knowledge to building dynamic web applications in Sinatra—that’s what we teach our adult classes in a month! They took on the exact same material and totally ran with it. We were so impressed with what they accomplished that we wanted to share a few of their apps:

Humans of New York

Ethan built an app that texts users when a new photo is posted to the wildly popular Humans of New York photoblog.

Dress Without Stress

Courtney (who attended with her brother and sister) made a practical apparel app called Dress Without Stress, which provides fashion recommendations based on the weather.

Random Facts

Rishi made a Random Facts app to serve up a new random fact every day. Look, now you know what phosphenes are. And knowledge is power.

Inspirational Quote Generator

Christine was super diligent about blogging her experience in a Tumblr. Her last post is on her final project, a Sinatra app that shares inspirational quotes (and good vibes).

SAT Trainer

Natalie’s app posts a daily SAT question to help her study for the test (which according to her countdown is coming up soon!). It also offers some stress relief in the form of playlists and cute hedgehog GIFS.

Activity Generator

Really, really bored? Zoe Goldstein made an activity-generating app that suggests things to do when you can’t think of any yourself—like “paint your nails” or “read a novel.”

We also saw stock market scrapers, Lana Del Rey fan sites, and a whole bunch of animated GIFs, including this surprisingly well-prepared bucket head. It was awesome (and totally inspiring) to see these students express their creativity, intelligence, and incredible senses of humor through code.

What’s Next

Flatiron After School was built using the momentum of the summer program’s huge success. Classes (which start soon!) are designed to allow for flexibility in schedules but also leverage the immersive nature of our teaching methods. Visit the program site for class schedules, pricing information, and more!