Where Do I Start, It’s All So Confusing !!!!

Where Do I Start, It’s All So Confusing !!!!

We are all in this together – As parents we know, nothing was ever meant to be easy………whether its selecting the right school for your child, or selecting a suitable after school day care, or selecting a nanny to baby sit your child or even selecting a suitable computer for him/her to use in class. And when it comes to working out how to get your child started on their own STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning journey it couldn’t be any harder. It can be truly frustrating and almost impossible to work through.

The number of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning options out there, combined with the number of development platforms, the number of different vendors selling their learning kits all touting that they offer your child the best learning path, the large variety of coding, robotics, electronics kits out there make it difficult if not impossible for parents like us to work out what’s the best way to get one’s child started on their own STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning journey. Combine that with the fact that every child is unique and what might work for another child/parent might not necessarily work for you/your child.

Working with kids and their parents on a weekly basis at the codeclub gives us a better understanding of the challenges parents face, the learning challenges that kids face and the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning options that really work for kids. We have also realized that you REALLY DO NOT need to spend a lot of money to get your child started on their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning journey. With some very minimal investments you can get your child (and even yourself) started with their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning journey.

How do you get started – So if you have landed up here and are reading this it’s likely that you are looking to understand what are the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning options available out there, what STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning options might suit your child and sort of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning journey/path your child might embark on. To get started we would recommend a combination of coding with Scratch and BBC micro:bit, followed by an introduction to robotics and electronics. See the next two paragraphs for details on Scratch and BBC micro:bit.

Scratch is a visual programming language and online community targeted primarily at children. Using Scratch, users can create online projects and make them into anything by coding with simple blocks. When they are done or when the desire to, they then share and can discuss their creations with each other. Developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, the service is designed to help children (ages 8 and up) learn to imagine, reason with common sense, and work with computers. Scratch so far has been translated into 70+ languages and is used in homes, schools, and after-school clubs in every country in the world. Scratch is often used in teaching coding, computer science, and computational thinking. Teachers also use it as a tool across many other subjects including math, science, history, geography, and art.

 

The BBC Micro Bit (also referred to as BBC Micro Bit, stylised as micro:bit) is an ARM-based embedded system designed by the BBC for use in computer education in the UK. The board is 4 cm × 5 cm and has an ARM Cortex-M0 processor, accelerometer and magnetometer sensors, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, a display consisting of 25 LEDs, two programmable buttons, and can be powered by either USB or an external battery pack. The device inputs and outputs are through five ring connectors that are part of the 23-pin edge connector at the bottom of the board. The micro:bit can be programmed using the Microsoft Block code program editor which is similar to the block based language Scratch ideal for 7-12 year olds. The micro:bit can also be programmed using the Makecode editor in Javascript and Python which allows for older kids to learn the Javascript and Python programming language using the micro:bit. You can read more about the BBC micro:bit at the microbit website. Also see Kitronik’s resources here – Parents Complete Guide To The BBC micro:bit.

We get our kids at the code club to spend a lot of time on Scratch and BBC micro:bit. We use Scratch coding and BBC micro:bit coding to explore the various computer science fundamentals while also building logical, analytical, reasoning, problem solving skills. Kids work on projects / tutorials at KidzCanCode (100% FREE) and  gradually build a strong understanding of the basic coding concepts. As they progress we introduce them to robotics based on the BBC micro:bit and Makeblock. Interacting with the real world through robotics engages the child and also helps build a better understanding of mechanics and physics. We eventually get them started with fundamentals of electronics based on micro:bit and arduino.

Get Started – The development tracks, learning resources at KidzCanCode are 100% FREE to use. There’s enough learning content at KidzCanCode to keep your child focused on STEM  (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning for a few years (Assuming he/she spends a couple of hours on STEM learning every week) Consider starting off your child with Scratch and then gradually introduce coding with micro:bit. Over time introduce electronics using the micro:bit and eventually some robotics based on the micro:bit. So please feel free to dive in and get your child started on their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning journey.

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