In our house technology is just a part of everyday … there are now more than two online devices for every family member. We try to be quite up to date because part of helping guide our kids it to understand the digital world. Even so, the kids are always teaching me new things that I can do online and sometimes they seem a lot more savvy than I am.
The way we live now is so different to a decade ago (remember a cassette tape?) and I can’t comprehend what another 10 years of new technology will create. So, what does that mean for our kids?
The truth is that many of the most in demand jobs of the future don’t even exist yet. Check out some of these crazy new job titles that are predicted for the near future:
- Data Transmission Optimizers
- Drone Docking Designers and Engineers
- Data Integration Manager
It’s hard to get my head around my kids finding their way with all of this, when I still struggle with my phone updates!
The good news is there are a number of fun ways you can prepare your kids now. Coding (also called programming or developing) is telling a computer, app, phone or website what you want it to do. Some educators and experts are calling it the ‘new literacy’—a subject so important that every child needs to know the basics to excel in our rapidly changing world.
Four- and five-year-olds can learn the foundations of coding and computer commands before they can even write and spell words. Students who begin coding at an early age get a deeper understanding of the logic and advanced thinking behind computer systems … like learning a language or musical instrument.
Schools are adapting, but it can be a bit slow, and realistically as parents we can give our children some big advantages by helping them learn some of these new skills at home. . A great suggestion is to start learning with your children so that you too can get a better idea of the concepts … And it can be super fun too!
One of the simplest ways to begin is to try some online activities, which include step by step tutorials. These can be done at home with your kids and can be really enjoyable. Try this super simple one – http://turtleacademy.com/lessons/en where you can easily enter instructions to draw with a turtle.
As part of the Stockland Robotics Challenge you can also download a free lesson plan and toolkit from Code Club Australia which teaches you and your kids the basics of Scratch. Scratch is a worldwide online community that can be used for all sorts of things including designing games and other quite complex applications. It is so commonly used that you can find heaps of tutorials and examples online to follow and this is a really great way for your kids to learn.
Toys and Kits
A fast growing section of the toy and model market is robotics. There are many simple robotic systems that are available and we have tried a few over the years. Some of the big brands have products that really push the robotics and coding learning for kids, but be warned, they can be quite an investment.
Our kids love programming their ‘ball’ robot which is an amazing little sphere robot that can be driven from an app on their phone. They can program its movements, colour changes and even try to drive it through a maze using code that they enter into the app. It offers great independent learning of the basic sequencing of commands.
Workshops, Clubs and Competitions
Another great way to learn is to collaborate with others and there are a surprising number of ways to do that. Many schools offer voluntary coding clubs and they often use the same Scratch program or something similar. It often includes robotics too which is really just using coding to control the physical actions of a machine to do something.
Local businesses and community groups are also popping up in many areas and they run their own programs for all ages. Keep an eye in local media for those or check online for the thousands of code clubs and sites.
Also running at the moment is the Stockland’s Robotics Challenge, a national competition that calls on school children across Australia from 8 to 15 years to submit a creative idea on how robotics technology could improve their community. There are over $3,000 worth of educational prizes to be won including, iPad minis and Little Bits Kits. The overall winner will also attend the Stockland Young Innovators Day on the Sunshine Coast in December as a VIP, with a personal meet and greet with Chip the robot. Find out how to enter below …
We have entered this competition ourselves and you should too!
Each of our kids entered but this one was my favourite because it helped me! The idea for how a robot could help our family was to do the heavy lifting around the house for mum …. like bringing in the groceries or moving furniture. That would be lovely because I’ve had a few injuries over the years from heavy lifting, especially trying to juggle babies and lifting things. Here was the drawing for our entry … it was really easy to enter. We just typed the description of our idea and uploaded the drawing after taking a picture of it on our phone.
How You Can Enter
- Head to: stockland.com.au/chip
- To enter, tell or show how Chip the robot could help you, your family, school or community by either:
- Type in 50 words or less, or
- Submit a drawing or diagram, or
- Pitch your idea on a video (no more than 60 sec in length), or
- Code a game in Scratch
- Submissions must be entered by Friday 4 November
Why not enter your idea now!
Stockland is excited to partner with Code Club Australia to launch the Robotics Challenge and to educate kids on the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths education (STEM) – these will be core skills required for Australia’s jobs of the future.