Technology has completely changed all of our lives and now our kids do not know a life without technology involved. You will hear many experts share information that this phenomenon is a bad thing that is going on in our society, but it is our feeling that there is a nice balance that can be found within technology that can actually set our kids up for success in today’s global society. We agree that outdoor play is extremely vital to the health of our kids, but as the global marketplace moves more and more towards science and technology we need to realize that these are the fields that will provide a lucrative income for our young people as they grow up.
As parents, many of us think about how our kids are spending their extra time. Learning to code is a great activity for kids to learn that does not have to cost a fortune. In fact, there are some instances where it is completely free.
Take a look at the 5 programs below. These sites are either completely free or they have a free component.
With over 12 million registered users, Scratch is a program that was designed by MIT students and aimed at kids between the ages of 8 – 16 (although all ages enjoy the free program). Kids that use the program are able to design a variety of interactive games, stories, and animations. You should see how kid’s faces light up when they write out code and see the results of what they have written out. The systematic process that kids are forced to think through is a skill that will help them throughout the 21st century.
This website is the result of a nonprofit organization’s desire to help break down the barriers of teaching kids to code. If you watch the introductory video on their main page, you will see that their aim this year is to get more girls to code. Through their Hour of Code program, over 260 million kids have participated in coding activities and 49% of that total is female.
This is a very simple site that is set up with 2 boxes that are side by side. A child can write the code in one side and see exactly what they code does in the other side. Kids enjoy the simplicity of this site and the fact that it also provides prompts along the way.
CodeCombat uses an interactive, game play style to teach kids to code while also having a lot of fun. One of the interesting features of this site is that it is built as a community project. Currently over 450 contributors have helped to build the levels on CodeCombat. This program is best for kids that are just a little bit older due to the complexity of the game play.
You will not say that this program is as eye-catching as the others listed, but it is still a great resource. Code Avengers offers a free option and a paid option. You can actually sign up for the free option without putting your credit card in.
Ultimately, when kids learn how to build simple websites and designs, it helps them refine their problem-solving, logic, and creative skills in a way that they would not acquire from other activities. It will actually change their perspective of the world as they really begin to understand how things work. Coding is one of the worlds universal languages and just about everything that we do now involves some sort of software or software application. From the smart phones that they play on to the smart cars that they will be driving in the future, technology applications are everywhere around us.
Some educators are saying that coding is the “new literacy.” They believe that just as our young people learn biology to better understand the world around them, they should also understand technology to better understand the world around them. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics employment of computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow by 4 million jobs between 2014 to 2024. Much of this is due to an emphasis on cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data, and more everyday items being connected to the Internet. In May 2015, the average income for this area was $81, 430. This amount is expected to increase.
If you are looking for ways to inspire your kids career path, check out the book Nerdy Jobs. It will give you 50 careers that make being nerdy actually very cool.
-Noreen “the Science Queen” Raines