Think Ahead has launched a new coding initiative called CodeSpace for grade 5-7 learners. You may know them from other important projects they’re involved in like ZA Books, iSchool Africa, Education App Guides to name a few. They are very passionate about technology and education and CodeSpace is no different.
It’s because kids are so intuitive with technology (I’ve seen this first hand with my nieces and nephews) that Think Ahead came up with a coding course, because they see ‘computational thinking’ as an essential skill to have in current times. They say these skills have nothing to do with whether or not your child wants to become a programmer.
This is what Think Ahead says: “Coding is a way of solving problems, sequential thinking, creating, designing and working with others. Think Ahead facilitators incorporate these 21st-century skills throughout the programme and, provide context to enable learners to make sense of digital things in the world. Our approach is centred on design-based learning, which draws on children’s own creativity and interests as they learn by designing and creating their own projects. Making mistakes and taking risks are emphasised as a way for kids to learn by debugging their code and coming up with better solutions. Collaboration and learning from each other are also encouraged.”
So basically if your child is interested in taking this course, this is what they will get out of it:
- Digital literacy: learning to think in the language of computers
- Communicating & Collaborating: The power of creating things and sharing with others
- Creative expression: Become creators instead of consumers of technology
- Questioning: Inspired to solve problems and make sense of digital things in the world
CodeSpace is a 10-week course that is meant to be an extra-mural activity; and they are also offering CodeSpace for Girls and holiday events for kids.
The course caters to a group of maximum of 25 kids, and will let them learn on the iPad using the Hopscotch app (which I experienced for myself, more on that below) and Tickle, a block-based programming app designed on MIT Scratch programming interface. They will learn the fundamentals of programming like loops, variables, and conditional statements without the tricky computer programming lingo. If anything, it’s a stepping stone.
Parents – you can sign your grade 5-7 kids up for the holiday program, or schools can get in touch with Think Ahead about offering it to learners.
I experienced a quick one-hour course myself last Friday. In preparation, I downloaded the Hopscotch app onto my iPad and learnt how to create a very basic game. I was quite excited about it and had a great time creating my first ‘game’. All the commands are within the app, you just select your characters and create rules around them. We were taught a very basic one with a hero and villain.
As you can see from above, this is what the Hopscotch interface looks like. And this is what it ended up looking like:
You can find more info and contact details on the thinkahead.co.za website.