Incredible advances in technology have changed the way we communicate, work, and learn. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed this further and forced us to adapt to the current realities.
Before the pandemic, we used to hold physical STEM programs in different schools in Kenya. This pandemic saw us shift our sessions online. It is now three weeks since we started our virtual programming sessions. I must say that it has been a great learning opportunity for us. We thought that this is a program that will attract kids and interestingly, a few adults who are in their 20s and early 30s enrolled for the sessions as well.
Like everything you try for the first time, it is always best to start with the basics! And that is where we began our journey. No one can play a piano or guitar the first time they pick up the instrument. Student drivers do not start driving a car until they understand the basic driving controls. If you move quickly, not only will you fail to grasp the basic ideas but also, you might find programming an uphill task hill. The better you understand the basics, the easier it will be to understand the more complicated concepts.
Blockly games were a fun option for getting started with the programming sessions. It was interesting to see how the students began navigating through and writing different instructions that informed a robot on how to move from point A to point B. As the levels progressed, the learners were able to understand concepts such as loops and if statements.
Programming fosters creativity, reasoning, and problem-solving. It was interesting to see students instruct the robots in blockly, and use logic to turn programming constructs to ensure that the robot moves without crushing. When things did not work quite as well as expected, they would retrace their steps, break down the problem into smaller bits, and use problem-solving to figure out what went wrong. After figuring out what the issue was and rectifying it, we could hear the wow moments through exclamations like, I did it!
Anyone in programming would admit it is fun, sometimes challenging, and sometimes frustrating! The learners would give comments like “this is very hard, can you give me a few minutes to figure it out? ”Another one that pleasantly struck me was “level nine was difficult, I tried a few things which did not work, when I looked at her work (code), I noticed there was a mistake and when she looked at mine, she noticed there were some mistakes in mine too. We then decided to combine our thoughts, and we were able to solve level nine of the game .”
One of the parents not only wanted to know how their child was progressing, but also whether the child is interested in continuing with the sessions. What is a better way to ask the student, would you want to continue with the programming sessions? The learners’ comment was “why should I stop? It was fun!”
The problem solving, critical thinking, and teamwork skills that these 8 and 9 years children were developing are vital both in school or work places, even if their future careers or endeavors have nothing to do with computers or codes.
Let me pen off for now but just before I do that should you be happy to enroll your kids in our virtual programming sessions reach out to us via firstname.lastname@example.org or have a look at this document which describes about the course. This is a journey that begins with the basics before diving deeper into Scratch, Android programming, and eventually java programming depending on the duration that you’d want to get involved.