There are several reasons I wish I could afford to live on the North Shore, but here’s another one. The Lake Forest Recreation Center recently hosted a camp for kids to expose them to a variety of engineering concepts. The program, which was offered by Computer Explorers, taught children about the basic components of engineering design – levels, gears, pulleys, and software – and how those pieces are connected together to create useful tools and structures. Children as young as three participated. Apparently, it was a hands-on, tinkerer-friendly introduction to the exciting world of engineering design, which is exactly the kind of environment kids need if they are going to become excited about these concepts.
Anyone who has ever watched kids play understands that most are tactile learners, constantly fidgeting with toy pieces, rotating and shifting and twisting and throwing and even biting them. They don’t sit for explanations; they want to play as they learn. It sounds like the developers of this camp understood that very well.
I find two quotes from this article particularly interesting:
- “The environment we’re creating is a collaborative team-based environment. So kids are always working in teams and pairs or in groups. That’s important because too many times technology can be isolating.” In other words, the antiquated stereotype of the antisocial computer geek working alone is banished from the start.
- “Think about all the skills that go into programming: logic and sequencing and organization. It’s really never been just about the technology.” This gets back to the theme I’ve been emphasizing in several of my posts, that computer science is all about problem solving, not about mastering some arcane and uncomfortable language better suited to neanderthals who speak in grunts.
It is encouraging to see programs like these being offered to kids so young.