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Today, children and adults alike interact with technology more than ever. Just think: how many children under 10 do you know that have their own phone or tablet?
(For us, it’s “plenty.”)
Now, how many children could explain the technology inside those devices?
Understanding how technology works, even at a basic level, gives children advantages. We’ve personally seen how making real-world connections enhances classroom engagement. Experts agree that learning to code is key to computer literacy – a big goal of many learning initiatives. This means it’s important to teach coding and computational thinking to children as early as possible.
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If you’re like a lot of parents, you know your kid needs to learn coding to learn essential twenty-first century skills. A recent study showed over half of all top-paying jobs require coding. Another showed jobs requiring programming are growing 12% faster than the market average.
It’s clear coding isn’t just good to know – it’s essential. In fact, 65% of current grade school students will work in jobs that don’t exist yet. But only 40% of schools teach computer science and coding. How is your child supposed learn coding and other critical skills?
It can feel intimidating to know the best way to get started:
- What’s the best programming language your child should learn?
- What activities are good for beginners?
- How do you find a coding program that grows with your child (instead of one your child quickly outgrows)?
- And most importantly, how can you make this fun for your child so she or he wants to learn more?
If you’ve ever wondered about any of these questions, then you’ll want to pay attention during the first week of December. Hour of Code is coming!
What is Hour of Code, and How it Helps Kids (and Parents) Finally Learn Coding
Every year, tens of millions of students in over 180 countries participate in a global movement called Hour of Code. As the official Hour of Code site states,
The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify “code”, to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with 1-hour coding activities but expanding to all sorts of community efforts.
Over 200,000 educators worldwide participate, making it the largest group coding activity in the world. And this year, Because Learning is hosting a simple, easy way for your child to participate and learn coding!
How Your Child Can Participate in Hour of Code
There are two ways to participate.
- Browse the Hour of Code website, find a lesson you want to do on the main Hour of Code website
- Join Because Learning in participating this year!
As parents, educators, and coders ourselves, we at Because Learning want kids to learn these critical skills! That’s why we’ve designed lessons that are the perfect way introduce kids to coding, take their skills to the next level, and provide a framework they can follow for life.
Our coding lessons achieve three critical things for kids:
- First, they provide instant feedback so kids can experiment until they get everything just right. This provides immediate learning.
- Second, they’re customizable. This gives kids room to explore and play when they’ve completed the basic lesson instructions.
- Finally, they’re fun! Our own children spend hours and hours writing code, taking measurements, and experimenting to see what they can do.
It’s no wonder Because Learning’s Sensor Kits and coding lessons are used in thousands of classrooms all over the world. They are, hands down, the best way to introduce kids to coding for life.
But our kits aren’t just for the classroom. As a parent, you’ll like that our STEM coding lessons are based on a kit that actually grows with your child. That means no more kit you’ll use for six months before your kid gets bored and grows out of it.
What Lessons Do You Recommend for Hour of Code?
In our Lessons portal, we have hundreds of lessons your child can try to learn coding principles. Here are the lessons we think would be perfect for Hour of Code:
- OLED Display Hello World
- Can you control the styling and the message that is printed out on the OLED Display using an Arduino sketch?
- Introduction to Arduino Sketches and Leveraging Variables
- What is an Arduino sketch, and how can you use variables to simplify Arduino sketches?
- Nightlight Engineering
- Can you make an LED light turn on when a room goes dark using a sensor?
- Light Show
- Can you use an Arduino sketch to make your own LED light show?
- Knock Knock Joke with the OLED Display
- Can you alter a pre-written Arduino sketch to improve the display of a knock-knock joke?
- Spooky Fun Times
- Can you engineer a circuit that will use sensor data to trigger spooky sounds?
- Holiday Light Show
- Can you use code to make your own Holiday-themed LED light show?
- Pong with OLED Display
- Can you alter a pre-written Arduino sketch to improve the game of Pong?
- Accelerometer Warning Lights
- Can you design, build, and code a circuit that acts as a dynamic breaking system?
Sounds Great, But What do Parents and Kids Say About Your Coding Activities?
Because Learning’s Sensor Kits are used all over the world in thousands of classrooms to teach kids coding. Here’s what parents, teachers, and kids have to say:
“I’d tried to introduce my daughter to coding through DIY kits before. $150 and hours later, we still didn’t have even a blinking light. With Because Learning, we had a successful coding lesson up and running in minutes.”
– Ben, South Jordan, UT
“The big eye-opener for me is how kids just gravitate to these kits. Reading about science and technology and computer science isn’t going to get our kids where they need to be in our tech economy. … Implementing fun and engaging hands-on learning is the key.”
– Kevin Reeve, co-founder of Logan’s Cache Makers, a STEM learning club for middle and high school students.
“It’s difficult to find material that scaffolds from where my child is to where my child will be. Because Learning is something I know will grow with my child, every month.”
– Duane, Salt Lake City, UT
“We feel like the kits are helping us in laying the groundwork for that shift when it (new state STEAM standards) happens. Our favorite part about the partnership is everything they do is very exploratory in nature and there are a lot of touch points to connect to math and science.”
– Jeff Baugus
Science and Math Coordinator, Santa Rosa County Public Schools
How Do I Get Started?
Here’s how your child can participate with us for Hour of Code 2017:
- Activate your subscription. For just $21, we’ll send your child a Sensor Kit that includes all the hardware she or he needs to start coding with our web app. We’ll also give you access to our Lessons portal, where all of our coding activities live.
- Watch your email. We’ll send updates about Hour of Code activities, ways to participate, and suggestions for making this a great experience for your kid.
- Have fun and let us know what you did! When you run your experiments, we want to hear about it! Check your email for a special link with instructions on how to submit your experience.
Hour of Code is coming soon, so hurry! Subscribe today, and we’ll send your kit to you in time to participate (US-customers).
Recently, on a test speedway in Indiana, history was made. The Catalyst E2 Max electric bus went 1,102.2 miles on a single charge. The previous electric car record was set by a tiny, single-passenger electric vehicle traveling 28 miles per hour. You and I could actually fit in an electric bus. This means we’re one step closer to seeing electric buses on city streets – a major step forward for electric vehicle technology.
Other leading car manufacturers like Ford, Chevy, and others are also set to increase electric vehicle production in coming years. Ford announced that its first all-electric vehicle will have over 300 miles of range. The recently launched Chevy Bolt boasts over 200 miles of all-electric range.
As electric vehicles become more affordable, charge faster, and go farther, we’re all going to see a dramatic change in our transportation infrastructure. But right now, how these changes will look – and what specific technologies will drive them – aren’t 100% clear. We’re not entirely sure what that means for the skills our children need when they begin their careers someday.
How can we prepare our children to learn critical skills for the future if technology changes so quickly?
The Best Skills to Adapting to a Technologically Changing World
We’re not going to pretend our children are going to code in the same languages we use today – sorry, Python and Ruby. But the purpose of teaching coding isn’t just to learn a specific language.
As parents and educators, we’re always looking to the future to know how to prepare our children. We want to give them as much of a head start as possible.
With that in mind, we’re always asking the question, “What skills should our children learn today to set them up for success in the future?”
A study published by the World Economic Forum has some answers. The top skills needed by the next wave of workers include complex problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity.
Notice how none of these are specific technologies or skills. It’s the ability to learn that will prepare our children for the future.
Steps Educators Can Take Today to Prepare Our Students for Tomorrow
With this information, it’s clear we need to instill a love of learning and discovery in the children we teach. Yet this is easier said than done. The day-to-day work that happens in a classroom often doesn’t leave much time for exploration and discovery. This is especially true in states where classroom standards take a lot of time.
Fortunately, our work speaking with hundreds of educators across the world has given us some insight into creating learning environments where curiosity, exploration, and self-driven learning are rewarded.
What have we found? Educators who experiment find the greatest success. Sometimes it feels scary to step outside of the lessons plans we’ve used for years to try something new. But if we want our students to be lifelong learners and adapt to a changing world, then we have to try new things, too.
If that seems intimidating, the good news is you’re not alone. We’ve already shared some ideas that can help our students become better learners:
- We can learn how to engage students in science class.
- We can explore ways to add skills like coding into our curriculum, even if we haven’t coded before.
- We can choose experiments (like Brush Bot) that give students hands-on experience with real-world technologies and inspire their imaginations.
No matter what we do, our role as educators is to experiment along with our students. What works? What doesn’t? And what inspires our students to seek learning on their own?
We don’t know what technologies our children’s generation will need, but we do know what skills they’ll need. Our children will need to know how to solve complex problems, think critically, and be creative. Through experimenting ourselves, we can succeed as educators in providing these critical skills.
Want inspiration for how you can bring learning discovery into your classroom? Check out our recently redesigned Lessons where you’ll find activities by grade level, subject, and age. Plus, when you subscribe, you’ll get a free Sensor Kit worth $150 and access to over 100 lessons!
We’re excited to announcing our new logo and brand, Because Learning!
Since we launched our company in 2014, we’ve always been driven with the mission to get more students hands-on with STEM. We started off by providing an amazing experience to run an experiment on an orbiting satellite through our partner, Spire Global. It was incredibly rewarding to see the excitement of students being able to come up with their own creative experiments.
We further built out our platform and curriculum, we started to get requests from teachers to also provide science, math, engineering, and coding lessons that incorporated our Sensor Kits. They loved how all these disciplines could be tied together and you didn’t have to have a background in coding and engineering. Seeing their eyes light up and their confidence grow with each new lesson was infectious.
As we continued to grow, it made sense for us to create Because Learning as our company brand to better reflect our offerings into these other verticals. Ardusat will still be used as our space program name and we’re excited continue to have students build amazing space missions.
Another thing that we’re incredibly excited to offer is our subscription program to our Because Learning. Now teachers, parents, and anyone who’s excited to get hands-on STEM learning can do a monthly subscription and they will get one of our Sensor Kits for free. Yes, the same Sensor Kit will come free with your monthly subscription. Our goal is to provide easier access to our kits because we believe that learning STEM should always be with hands-on tools.
So here’s to making learning more engaging and fun…because!