Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) knowledge and skills are in-demand in this ever-changing world. Parents, families and teachers are called upon to aid children in building skills, content knowledge, and fluency in STEM. One such simple, yet profound way is building children’s STEM awareness through coding. Computational skills are foundation skills for STEM. It includes knowledge and skills to analyses data and information to solve problems and know how to gather evidence to make decisions. Subsequently, the use of such knowledge is used in innovative ways for new inventions.
See video courtesy of Office of Educational Technology, USA on supporting children’s computational thinking.
High Job Demand
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 8.6 million STEM jobs in May 2015, representing 6.2 percent of U.S. employment. Computer occupations made up nearly 45 percent of STEM employment, and engineers made up an additional 19 percent. Mathematical science occupations and architects, surveyors, and cartographers combined made up less than 4 percent of STEM employment
Seven out of the ten largest STEM occupations were computer related. These jobs included:
- Civil engineers
- Mechanical engineers
- Computer programmers
- Software developers
- Computer systems administrators
- Computer system analysts
Professionals in these STEM related fields command high wages. The demand for these jobs is expected to increase by 24% per year from 2016 to 2026. This means our children must be prepared to be employed in the STEM field and parents and teachers must ensure children are being prepared.
What is Coding?
Coding, or computer programming is a process performed to tell a computer how to carry out tasks. This process involves writing computer programs using programming languages. Giving your children and students the opportunity at a young age to learn how to code and harness computational skills set them apart for lifetime success. It prepares them to be functional citizens for the 21 st century and beyond.
Parents, families and teachers will ensure that children as early as five years old can start learning how to code. This is very simple by using age appropriate tools and strategies to engage them and let them have fun. Young children can learn to code through the use of games, apps and project-based learning programming skills and knowledge used in the real world.
It is important to harness and build children’s interest very early as computer science brings together a number of skills and concepts in science, technology, engineering and math. The earlier we get children to interact in these areas the more likely they will approach advance learning with ease and confidence.
Learning How to Code
Children can learn how to code using visual block interfaces or age appropriate text-based coding. Google CS allows children up to 13 years old to study the Scratch visual block code used to make exciting 2D games Children are further allowed to add their own art, animation, music, voice and sound effects. Scratch is made available thanks to MIT.
Google CS designed curriculum resources and provide platform for meaningful engagement for children to learn to code . The curriculum is aligned to educational standards and the lessons provide step by step instructions all for free. The platform allows the saving of students work for review and assessment. There are lesson plans available to teach children at age and stage. Over 10 million activities have been taught since 2014.
See game design activity and story activities here -CS First
If your child has out grown Scratch or you have a teenager Python is best suited for learning coding. Python is an ideal first programming language with simple syntax and produces readable code. It offers real-world programming. Python has an interactive shell that encourages much experimentation for children at this age. This gives the opportunity for discovering what instructions do.
Computer Coding is the Foundation for Robotics Education
When children learn to code they are able to instruct robots through coding how to perform tasks. Robotics allow children to see how the codes they have designed generate thinking ( artificial intelligence) for tasks to be produced. This allows for several iterative processes as children can write and rewrite codes for precise tasks and actions.
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Two Top Recommendations
If you need resources for engaging your children or students in coding and robotics here are two top recommendations:
Smartick is an intelligent app-based E-Learning program that teaches children ages 4 -14 years Mathematics and Coding – from the comfort of their home – in 15 minutes per day. The program focuses on math and coding, but also develops a child’s critical thinking faculties through a series of complex logic and reasoning courses built into the programs self-generating, adaptive curriculum.
The technology developed by Smartick uses self-learning artificial intelligence to adapt and continuously adjust to each child’s individual academic level, curating a curriculum specifically and uniquely designed for each learner.
The program includes hundreds of educational tutorials and mentally stimulating “brain games” which children and parents can access from within the virtual world.
To date, Smartick’s has developed nearly 1 billion exercises and currently has over 1 million exercises completed each day, by students from over 100 countries around the world. Click link here to view video
Click the link below to get started
LEGO Mindstorms for children 10 years and over is an excellent robotics set to give your children. Parents, families and teachers you can give your children the best opportunity for engaging in coding and robotics education by investing in this set.
LEGO Mindstorms is a programmable robotics construction set to build, rebuild, program and command 17 LEGO robots! With free software and free apps, the robots can be connected to computers, tablets, or smartphones. It is everything you need in one box: bricks, motors, and sensors to build any of 17 EV3 robots .Children are able to unleash their creative powers by building robots that walk, talk, think and do anything you can imagine. They can bring robot to life – by using the Free EV3 Programmer App to bring robot to life with their tablet.
601 pieces – For boys and girls over 10 years old
- Includes Intelligent EV3 Brick & three servo motors, plus colour, touch and IR sensors
- SPIK3R is over 16” high, 14” long and 15” wide
- LEGO MINDSTORMS building toys are compatible with all LEGO construction sets for creative building.
Choose a program, press play, and watch your robot carry out the action. Or download the programming software to your PC or Mac for even more programming features. Children may command and play – by using smartphone or tablet as a remote control to steer the robots and challenge their friends to fun robot games. The Free EV3 Commander App puts the power right in their hands.
Experience the fun in rebuilding and endless creative possibilities with LEGO® MINDSTORMS®. By mixing LEGO elements, motors, sensors and the intelligent P-Brick with apps and programming software to bring LEGO creations to life, the MINDSTORMS robot kit inspires LEGO inventors of all ages to command their own build able LEGO creatures, humanoid, snake and other intelligent LEGO inventions.
Children can complete a series of challenging missions using the intuitive icon-based EV3 Programmer App for tablet devices to build and program TRACK3R, R3PTAR, SPIK3R, EV3RSTORM and GRIPP3R, and then create their own programs.
Your child gets the opportunity to be part of fan communities of like-minded creative builders, as well as online videos, tutorials and inspiration for remix designs with LEGO Technic™ sets, LEGO MINDSTORMS offers the ultimate challenge for robot tech toy enthusiasts everywhere. And of course LEGO team offers great customer service and advice to back this offer You can’t afford this great opportunity for a lifetime investment in STEM for your child.
One simple, yet profound way for building children’s STEM awareness is through coding. Giving your children and students the opportunity at a young age to learn how to code and harness computational skills set them apart for lifetime success. The jobs projected for further global employees are much related to computational intelligence and are in high demands.
Investing in Smartick’s math and coding program for children 4 to 14 years and LEGO Mindstorms robotics set for children 10 years and over provide an excellent opportunity for children to learn the best of math, coding and robotics and to become familiar and confident in learning STEM related subject matter at an advance stage.
This post was especially written for you to support your children or students in making the first step towards learning coding and embracing robotics education.
You are free to leave your opinions, ideas, comments, and questions relating to this post. I am more than happy to respond to you in a timely manner. I welcome you sharing your child’s experience with Smartick’s math and coding program and using LEGO Mindstorms robotics sets. Thank you and have fun engaging children.
Tracy-Ann Morgan-Smith, PhD, JP