Curious about our online summer camp experience? Now you can try out a bit of Camp Coding Space Online right here. While our camp ranges from three to six hours, this bite-sized video will provide a sense of the structure and range of activities our campers can look forward to in a complete session. In this special 30-minute demonstration, kids are invited to participate as we dive into a pixel art STEM activity, get coding with Scratch, and play a fun hands-on game with TCS teacher, Madison. Come code along and see what the buzz is about!
With so much education taking place virtually these days, it’s important to set kids up for success by creating productive home learning environments and giving a little extra TLC to our technology. Here are our top suggestions for how to ready your child’s workstation for daily distance learning.
Preparing your tech for daily use will help you avoid costly repairs and replacements and allow kids to keep learning—without annoying tech support interruptions. For more information, and to learn about our virtual coding classes and camps, contact us.
Is Coding a Fad?
In short, no. Coding is a field that is growing and changing quickly, and there is a world of opportunity for young students looking to get involved. Below are eight of the many reasons why coding for kids is here to stay.
1. Our world is growing more technological
Data is quickly becoming one of the most valuable resources in the global economy, making it hard to ignore the massive role that fields like data science and software engineering, both largely centered around coding, are going to have in the future. Figures estimate fifty billion smart devices are projected to be in use by 2020—illustrating the abundance of technology in our lives. As industries become digitized, new jobs are simultaneously emerging. Coding is an asset that will only continue to grow as we move forward as an increasingly connected society.
2. It teaches kids to strategize for unique solutions
Teaching kids how to code pushes young students to actually learn, not just memorize facts and regurgitate them. It challenges students to critically think about a problem, what they want to accomplish, and how to get it done. This problem-solving mindset will serve them in computer science and far beyond.
3. It encourages persistence
Most experienced coders will advise, while there is plenty of room for creativity in coding, there is also plenty of room for error. Learning to code teaches students how not to give up on their solutions, but rather to debug their code, even when repeated error messages appear. Coders tease out solutions by using their understanding of computational thinking to isolate any errors and achieve the goal at hand.
4. Its applications are nearly universal
Because computer science is expanding into every corner of the world, the sky is the limit for coders. Programming also incorporates mathematical concepts and can complement the concepts students are learning in their math classes. By teaching kids how to code, students will find the confidence and tools to explore aspects of software engineering, data analysis, video game development, and mobile app development—in just about any industry that they know and love.
5. It is challenging and collaborative
Computer science is a collaborative field, allowing individuals to work together to complement one another’s skill sets, and write code that is efficient and intuitive. Students can and often do learn to code in a group setting, so that they can discuss their ideas and learn from each other’s successes. Teaching kids about computer programming can be a catalyst for inspiring teamwork and leadership among students.
6. It develops computational thinking
Students learn how computers process and “think” about a given problem as well as important intuition about fundamental concepts, like basic control structures (e.g. loops and conditional statements) and more. Students will learn how to effectively break down problems into manageable parts, observe patterns in data, identify how these patterns are generated, and develop the step-by-step instructions for solving those problems.
7. It’s good for the brain
Multiple studies support the hypothesis that learning to code has real, long term benefits on young children. Researchers have found that individuals who code tend to have reduced odds of getting neurodegenerative diseases in older age and tend to do better in cognitive tasks, because coding activates areas of the brain that are associated with memory, attention, and logic.
8. It’s fun!
Kid-friendly programs like Scratch and WoofJS (both favorites of The Coding Space) permit students to visualize their projects while getting live feedback. They can build code that creates a video game or a website and share their work with friends. Developing kids’ proficiency with computer science now will lead to a future generation of coders who have the skill set to advance our world.
To learn more about how coding can benefit your child, contact us. The Coding Space offers virtual coding lessons for Young Beginners (ages 6-8), Beginner (ages 8-14) and Advanced (ages 8-14) on Saturdays and Mondays; group lessons; as well as a weekly summer camp, Camp Coding Space Online, for ages 8 and up.
A version of this article originally appeared on junilearning.com.
If your family spent more time in front of screens this spring than you would have liked, you’re not alone. Now that summer has arrived, it’s the perfect time for some screen-free STEM fun. And while we know that coding builds intellectual confidence and develops computational thinking skills, it’s important that learning takes place away from screens, too—especially for younger kids.
That’s why we love these activities. These games combine a problem-solving mindset with the fun of movement, action, and play. Our virtual summer camp experience, Camp Coding Space Online, utilizes similar hands-on, STEM-based activities to help students connect with each other, get a break from their computers, and reinvigorate focus. We recommend spending at least 15 minutes per day on STEM-based activities, but these games are so fun, we bet the play—and learning—will continue well beyond that. Here are some of our favorites:
Code the Kid (2-6 players):
In a programming play on the old schoolyard favorite Simon Says, this game asks players to practice coding language to get the “kid” (the person selected to be coded) to accomplish tasks.
How to play: First, set a goal for the “kid” to achieve: maybe opening a window, walking to the door, or even getting them to put away toys. Then, get them in their starting position, and ask another player to issue a single line of code (i.e. “turn 15 degrees to the left” or “move three steps forward”). When the “kid” has carried out that code, the next player issues a command, and so on. You can even add in physical obstacles, like placing a chair in the middle of the room. It’s also fun for parents to be the “kid” and show what happens when commands aren’t specific enough, say, “walk forward” (indefinitely) versus “walk forward three steps”.
Encoding and decoding puzzles is a great way for children to apply logic, experimentation, and pattern-mapping skills to a problem. Use the Pigpen cipher to send secret messages. Once they've cracked it, have them write a coded note to you.
Pigpen Cipher: This cipher is an easy way to get kids problem solving and crafting their own secret messages. In this cipher, each letter of the alphabet is represented by the shape of the grid that surrounds it. Watch this video for a straightforward explanation of how to use it, then write this key out for kids to solve:
There are lots of great ciphers to explore once kids have cracked this code. We also recommend the Ceasar cipher (which Roman emperor Julius Caesar used to communicate secretly with his armies) and, for more advanced code-breakers, the Playfair cipher. Get crackin’!
The Lego Maze
This hands-on activity encourages kids to guide characters through a maze of their own making while developing an understanding of coding concepts like loops and conditional statements, skills they’ll need throughout their programming journey. And with four levels of difficulty, this activity is perfect for coders of all skill levels. Here’s a great resource including instructions and printable materials.
Perfect for coders and makers, this craft introduces children to the simplest form of computer code—and results in a fun fashion accessory. For this activity, you’ll need string, beads in two colors, and access to the ASCII - Binary Character Table. Pick which color will represent 0 and which will represent 1. Then, find the letters of your name (or initials, if the name is longer than a few letters) on the binary chart. For example, if the letter was A, the beads would be: 01100001. This is a great opportunity to learn how computers process numbers and symbols.
Music-loving coders can learn the importance of loops and sequences in coding by repeating specific dance moves to their favorite tunes. First, pick a song that they like to dance to, then help them select a few specific moves. Small, deliberate moves work best. Once they’ve mastered the initial moves, and can do them repeatedly, introduce different kinds of loops in the form of modifications to the dance: spinning in a circle, touching their head, and more. The result is a fun, and wacky, dance-off!
Our TCS teachers are back on Twitch this week with more cool projects, engaging demos, and thoughtful problem solving. See below for what's on deck and stay connected by following our Twitch channel and check out past broadcasts by visiting our YouTube channel.
Previous Twitch Livestreams
Platformer Creation: Part 2
Saturday, June 13th
TCS teacher Trek continues work on the platformer, this time adding a boss. For ages 10+.
Making Tetris in WoofJS
Wednesday, June 10th
TCS teacher Pelle will be making Tetris in WoofJS and thinking through how coders can use WoofJS's systems to make and manipulate Tetrominoes. For ages 10+.
Platformer Creation: Part 1
Saturday, June 6th
TCS teacher Trek begins to move the platformer game he's been building in Scratch to Web. For ages 10+.
Adding Movement to Sprites
Satruday, May 30th
TCS teacher Trek adds movement costumes to sprites in Scratch in preparation for using them in a platformer game. For all ages.
Wednesday, May 27th
For even more videos from our teachers, visit our YouTube channel and be sure to subscribe!
There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has thrown families around the world for a loop. Between working from home and homeschooling as well as facing anxiety and uncertainty, this spring has been a challenge, to say the least. Fortunately, summer is just around the corner. And while your children deserve some real R & R, spending the whole summer on the couch is not a great option—they’ll go into the next academic year disengaged and at a disadvantage. That’s why it’s important to offer them opportunities to stimulate their minds in entertaining, low-pressure ways—all while respecting social distancing and stay-at-home recommendations. Here are some of our favorite suggestions for summer activities for 2020:
We strongly believe that students should thrive in and out of the classroom, and summer is a great time to enjoy quality time with your children. Remember: the idea is to just be. Whatever the activity—even if it’s just hanging out at home—be present. Choose an allotted amount of time (thirty minutes, the whole movie, the whole bike ride) and just focus on the here and now. No cell phones, no work emails, etc. Given COVID-19 disruptions, this summer may be exceptional for a whole host of reasons; here’s your chance to make it exceptional for your children, too.
Welcome, Alex. Tell us, what was the idea behind Unqork?
As a kid I was always coding and tinkering. I’m a self-taught programmer and taught myself how to program websites in the early days of the Internet. In the years leading up to Unqork, my customer experience agency, Cake & Arrow, started focusing on the insurance and banking industries.
Fast-forward a number of years and many, many enterprise applications delivered later. Myself and the other founding members of Unqork all got together to solve one of technology’s most pressing problems: it takes too long, too much money, and requires way too many people to create software for large organizations that really makes a difference. So we developed a new, no-code approach to create software for big companies that allows them to build sophisticated applications without having to write a single line of code. For those young coders learning Scratch, it’s similar in that you can drag-and-drop commands, while also building software for banks and big cities like New York.
Where is Unqork now?
Now, three years later, Unqork has quickly become the new way for forward-thinking companies and organizations in highly-regulated industries to build really complex software without needing to write code.
When we were just getting started, Unqork was focused on companies in the insurance and financial services industries, like: Liberty Mutual, John Hancock, and Goldman Sachs. Over the past 2 years, we’ve also expanded our work in the public sector, working with city governments, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies like Maimonides Medical Center (one of the biggest hospitals in Brooklyn).
Most recently, our no-code software powered Covid-19 pandemic responses for two of the country's largest cities: New York City and Washington, DC. These support and management hubs ensure residents have access to essential resources and, in NYC, enabled the delivery of over eight million meals to residents while employing more than 11,000 out-of-work delivery drivers.
That sounds like problem-solving at its finest! What two pieces of advice would you give to young people interested in coding?
One: Focus on what you love. Be obsessively and endlessly curious.
One of my mentors used to say “passion is the best predictor of success.” Why? Because if you're super passionate about something you’ll be more motivated to learn about it, you’ll seek out and find yourself in conversations with the top experts in the field, and you’ll read voraciously while others, who are less interested, will get distracted along the way.
Following your passion also applies to being a coder. I’d encourage you to build things you’re really passionate about. I advanced my coding skills the fastest when I was working on projects that really caught my attention, and, as you probably already know, it’s much easier to code and debug something when you’re invested in seeing the amazing end result.
Two: If you’re looking to make a difference, you need to be a problem solver.
Someone, who is willing and eager to observe a situation, identify the problem, and find the best tool at their disposal to create a solution.
For a coder, that means being willing to use both programming languages and tools outside of your normal toolbox. Asking yourself how you can most effectively and efficiently create a solution will enable you to make a huge difference.
Thanks for chatting with The Coding Space, Alex! For more information about Unqork and their no-code platform, you can visit their website here. And to unlock your child’s passion for problem solving, check out our virtual summer camp, Camp Coding Space Online, today.
The results are in! Our coders have been working hard for nearly a month on the Code 4 Change Challenge. This week, they turned their projects over to voters, who played games, explored sustainability solutions, learned valuable information about issues facing humanity, and finally voted for their favorites. The full list of winners, who each earned $50 toward a charity of their choice, is included below along with the finale's complete recording. Join us as we celebrate our community of coders and their hard work by exploring the Code 4 Change projects here. Thanks for helping us Code 4 Change. See you next year!
Looking for a way to continue your child’s coding education even outside of class? Check out The Coding Space on Twitch, the world’s leading livestream platform. Starting this week, our talented teachers will be showcasing their programming skills with interactive demonstrations, code-alongs, and more. We encourage parents to create an account so kids can chat with the presenters, but no account is necessary to simply watch. Sign up for free by hitting the button in the top right of the homepage. Miss the live feed? No problem - videos are free to access. Catch you on Twitch!
Creating Simulations Using WoofJS with Pelle
April 1 | 7 PM EST
We’ll be using simulations to show how social distancing can “flatten the curve” of COVID-19, using kid-friendly terminology and showing how technology can help us understand and approach a global problem. Recommended for ages 8 and up.
Making Music in Scratch with Pelle
April 3 | 1 PM EST
We’ll be merging programming with music theory to create interesting tones and sounds. Recommended for all ages.
Providing education from home can be a less-than-ideal situation. As many students are transitioning to an online learning environment, we’re here to help with some sound advice for how to set your child up for success. (Many thanks to Seesaw for the base of this information.)
Maintain a schedule
In the midst of this transition, students need consistency and routine.
Create a designated learning space
Getting started with Zoom
Connect with their instructors
We no longer have the pleasure of crossing paths during drop off and pick up, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to hear from you! If you have questions or concerns about your student’s progress, please send an email or schedule a video call to discuss with their teacher. And don’t hesitate to call the instructor if there’s a technical issue you can’t solve during class! We are here to help.
Pay attention to their experience
For your student, remote learning is likely a new experience and may feel isolating or disconnected. Let them know that technical issues are inevitable, and keep tabs on what your student needs. If they are enjoying the independence of learning remotely, encourage them. If they seem hesitant or unsure, they may need someone there to share the experience with them. You can help support their transition by sitting in for parts of their classes to keep them company. When they seem more settled, let them know you need to go get your own work done and you’ll be back to check in later on.
Begin and end each day with a check-in
Spending time checking in helps your child feel more secure and supports them as they process the change in their learning environment. Remember to give your student some space after a lesson ends before checking in, they likely need time to process before they’re able to share. Try asking:
Schedule physical activity and social interaction
Physical and social activity are essential to your child’s wellbeing, and they need to be prioritized even more now that we are moving to remote learning. Scheduling time for movement, social interaction, and play helps your child have a positive experience at home and helps them focus when it’s time to sit down in front of the computer.
Support your child’s emotional needs
In stressful times, children need supportive and stable relationships with trusted adults. Stay close with your child and provide age-appropriate information. For instance, here’s a kid-friendly comic about COVID-19.
As always, we’re here to help. For more resources, contact us.