Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire” – William Butler Yeats.
This was the Willam Yeats quote that came to my mind when I entered the room at PayPal office, the venue of the Kids in Tech 2017 Code Camp.
You could literally see the sparkle in each of the children’s eyes as they communicated with each other, putting in the finishing touches to their projects, with some nudging their parents eagerly to come forward and take a peep at their creations.
Those of us who have taught kids can attest that keeping kids engaged in a classroom setting is perhaps one of the toughest things to do, yet this room full of tweens were fully engrossed, engaged and energized. So much so that their excitement was bubbling over!
Dana personally shares her experience here:
For the next 30 minutes, parents were led through an energy-filled session as team by team, the kids presented their creations which their newly-acquired knowledge in coding and Micro-bits. These are what we loved about the presentations:
1. Resilience: The 29 kids came from all backgrounds (different schools, different races, different coding experiences etc). 3 days ago, when I dropped the kids off for the camp, they hardly knew each other. But 3 days later, they have overcome the initial awkwardness to become great team-mates, learning and laboring together to finish the task!
2. Regardless of …: It’s great to meld technology with friendship. The lament that kids who are into technology don’t know how to socialize doesn’t quite hold true in this camp. The kids made fast friends, bonded by their interest in tech. This had translated into team work which was evident from the games they coded where everyone made their unique contribution.
3. Rigour: This camp was not just ‘play-play’. There was a lot of rigour and discipline demanded from the kids – from maintaining good focus and attention to respect for others’ opinions when formulating their assigned coding projects. We could see the kids being constantly stimulated intellectually by the competent trainers from SG Code Campus, whose instructors hail from esteemed universities such as Stanford, Berkeley, NUS and Carnegie Mellon. It was such a privilege for Dana to learn from these bright and committed homegrown tech entreprenuers.
This was not Dana’s first coding camp but this is one that she will remember for a long time to come. When we asked her what made this Kids in Tech Code Camp so memorable, she attributed it to:
1. The Trainers and Facilitators – According to Dana, they were patient, helpful, knowledgeable and really attentive. They encouraged kids to ask questions and seek for answers patiently through trial and error.
2. The Tasks – The kids were set challenging tasks which stretch their logical thinking and problem-solving abilities. They were told to use their trouble-shooting skills to code their programs better and not settle for status quo.
3. The Tummies – The kids were really well-taken care of throughout the camp. Not only was the venue very comfortable and conducive for learning, their little tummies were fed good meals for breakfast, tea and lunch!
From a parents’ perspective, this Kids in Tech Code Camp was truly impactful. It was heartening to see kids work with one another to master a new tech skill. Over the 3 days, they brainstormed, debated, reconciled, failed and tried again. Essentially, they were brought through the design thinking process which is critical for instilling a growth mindset in kids. Kudos to the trainers from SG Code Campus. Most coding schools would band learners according to their abilities, yet the team was able to deliver a fun and educational coding experience in mixed ability groups.
Tech and Beyond:
Living in this digital disruption age, technology will play an even bigger role in our kids’ lives. What we love about this Kids in Tech Code Camp is that beyond tech skills, the experience has made the kids aware of the importance of diversity, agility, empathy, perseverance and teamwork. These are humanistic attributes that technology can never replace. As a parting note, we echo what the kids’ sentiments at the end of the camp, “THANK YOU PAYPAL!!”
Let’s hear what Dana has to say about the Kids in Tech 2017 Code Camp through this VLog:
Everyone should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think…” – Steve Jobs.