What does it take to move your child from consumer to producer of technology?
Today’s kids are often chastised for playing too many video games, texting too much or spending too much time on social media. So how can we leverage their interest in technology to encourage them to become the makers and producers—the game designers, programmers and innovators? The simple answer is computer science education.
Not All Screen Time Is Created Equal
Most kids today know how to use a computer or a mobile device, but that is the limit of their digital literacy. With project-based computer science (CS) education, kids gain the skills, knowledge and power to develop their own games, apps, websites, music, robots and more. With CS, students can expand their horizons, so they are no longer passive consumers of technology, but active creators.
According to studies by the Harvard Graduate School of Education and M.I.T’s Media Lab, when done right, computer science education helps young people develop computational thinking skills. It teaches them the concepts, practices and perspectives to think like a computer.
Creating Thinkers and Problem-Solvers
While computers often seem to hold all the answers, without human developed programs, they are nothing more than expensive paperweights. When kids learn computer science, they learn to communicate with the computer – and, in doing so, they gain invaluable skills that provide the logic, creative thinking and problem-solving capabilities that will serve them in any career path they wish to pursue.
The Power of Self-Regulation
In traditional subjects, students have to wait until their work is reviewed and graded before they know if they are right or wrong. The longer feedback takes to reach a student, the harder it is to understand why their answers are incorrect. Alternatively, with computer science, if you give the computer a set of directions in the wrong order or with the wrong syntax, you see the result of your errors immediately. According to a report by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Education Technology, this instant feedback has been shown to motivate children to persist until they fix the error, because they are able to monitor their own progress.
Like in the real-world, in coding, wrong answers are tools to bring you closer to the right answer. Experimenting, iterating, testing and debugging (the process of finding and solving problems when they arise) are core practices of computer science – so when failed efforts finally yield a result that ends with the computer doing what you desire, it’s exciting, and kids feel ready for the next challenge!
Skills for Today and Beyond
In a rapidly advancing world, computer science education is a game changer for kids. When students come together to create, collaborate and code, they not only have fun, but they also develop the skills and thought processes that will carry our world forward.
Generation Code is a kids coding initiative that seeks to empower students to become creative problem-solvers and digital leaders through project- and design-based learning. Currently operating in schools across NYC, Generation Code will launch in Washington, D.C. and Vienna, Virginia this spring and summer. Learn more about the Generation Code approach to C.S. education at generationcode.com