Hey, parents! Here’s how TECH PARK teaches what you need to know to do programming
Hi, everyone! It’s me, the TECH PARK founder (Sasakumi). It’s been a while (maybe?).
We’re right in the middle of Summer School 2017 at TECH PARK, and kids came today to enjoy making the rest of their summer vacation time all their own.
I know I’ve said this in my previous blog posts and Facebook post from the beginning of summer, but even though I proclaimed, “I’m going to share about the tools we use at Summer School!”, but before you know it, summer is almost over!
This isn’t a good example for kids. Adults, you really need to keep your promises (I tell myself).
With that being said, I’d like to report about some of the activities we had at Summer School this year. Today, I’ll write about programming.
Yesterday (8/23) was everyone’s favorite: a programming day!
Summer school has focused on all sorts of themes and given kids chances to try out programming in many ways, but this day gave them the chance to choose whatever they wanted to focus on. The older kids had the teachers (engineers) teach them somewhat tricky expressions in Scratch, and even as they said “this is hard,” the room would get silent as they all got totally absorbed into their work and focused until the end of the day.
They were working so hard that I felt like I was bothering them if I talked. Amazing concentration, as expected from our always solid upper-grade team.
The younger students used Viscuit. Kids who’d already used Viscuit in the past used the skills they had learned to make all kinds of new creations. Viscuit mainly involves drawing, so the kids had fun making their own uniquely-individual creations.
Since there were so many students, I was bombarded with calls of “Teacher! Come look!” I was really amazed with how well they explained their programs. Actually, they ended up becoming my teachers when I couldn’t understand the controls and they had to explain them to me. Thanks to all my great teachers!
Kids did mind mapping, too.
When kids our deciding what they want to make, our stance is to act as guides to help them think for themselves to figure out how to turn their ideas into reality.
We don’t just treat kids like kids at TECH PARK. Aside from teaching controls or operations, we don’t have teachers tell kids exactly what to do to create something. But we also don’t just let them create things randomly.
What we do is ask the kids to use a “mind map.”
A mind map is a method for organizing thoughts that we also use as engineers.
Programming in and of itself isn’t something that fosters thinking. There are many ways that engineers organize their thoughts (frameworks) to reduce inefficiency, figure out which things really need to be done, simplify things, and increase productivity before dropping into programming. When we actually write (implement) code, we teach what we do as engineers, and try thinking about things together.
These mental organization frameworks aren’t just things that you can use when programming, but useful and convenient tools for everyday life. In our business it’s not just programmers who use these techniques, but people from all sorts of roles like managers, product managers, consultants, infrastructure engineers, front-end engineers, back-end engineers, salespeople, and more.
At TECH PARK, we use lots of these mental organization frameworks to think about things together with the kids.
We hope you try these techniques at home, too.
Break time is necessary to stay sharp
At TECH PARK, we also schedule time between activities for breaks, and we teach that there needs to be time to break away from computers. Staring at the computer screen, concentrating too hard, time slipping away... this kind of pattern isn’t rare. But there are a lot of other important things that come about in the daily lives of kids, so learning how to set boundaries and stop yourself is an important skill to learn.
If you’re wondering what the kids do when they’re away from their computers, they can climb the bouldering wall, read from the bookshelf, build with LEGO bricks, play with prototypes that staff members have made, try board games from abroad, and much more.
I think being able to choose what you want to do and how to spend your time is really nice. We want to keep adding new things for kids to try so that TECH PARK can be a place where kids can discover new passions and interests in this manner.
What’s are the necessary things to learn to be able to live while doing the things you love? We think a lot about these kinds of questions.
In an age of remarkable technological advancement, what’s really important for children’s growth? We’ll keep pondering these things and do our best to reach more children.
Technology isn’t just limited to computers. Working together as teams to solve problems and challenges is also important, and technology is necessary in using hammers, laser cutters, making fires, hunting(!), and much more.
Summer School 2017 is coming to an end soon and we’ll return to our normal after school program from September. But they say that perseverance is power, so we hope you’ll keep joining us in our after school or tech courses.
Upcoming event news
During the after school time on 9/1, we’ll hold an event for parents/guardians featuring a Japanese woman who attended the renowned MIT for university. She’ll talk about the charms of MIT and deliver a message for the kids. We’ll post more details to our Facebook page, so stop by and give us a like if you’re interested in learning more!
See you later, everyone.