STEM in Primary

STEM in Primary
A blog for those interested in primary school STEM education

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Advanced Coding for Kids

Advanced Coding

I have previously posted about the substantial array of resources available to get kids into coding. In time some kids will want more of a challenge. Well there is a huge array for them as well.
The general purpose programming language with the greatest uptake in schools and universities at the moment is Python. This is a great language because it is powerful yet has some of the complexities of other languages removed. There are some great books for kids such as Hello Raspberry Pi!: Python programming for kids and other beginners and Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming. If you buy a Raspberry Pi the default operating system comes pre-loaded with Python and it also has a version of Minecraft that can be programmed with Python. So if you have a Minecraft obsessed child then this may be one way to show them how coding can open up new possibilities in the game.
A language used extensively in webpage design is JavaScript. Kids can learn JavaScript through 3D game design software called Alice. Alice is an innovative block-based programming environment that makes it easy to create animations, build interactive narratives, or program simple games in 3D. If your child doesn't warm to Alice then perhaps Code Combat will inspire them. They will learn coding whilst developing a 3D combat game in Javascript or Python.
.Image result for alice programming Image result for codecombat
For those that are keen on Microsoft products there is Kodu. Kodu GameLab is aimed squarely at encouraging children to engage with coding through a sandbox environment with numerous textures, sprites, terraforming, pathfinding and logic trees.
Image result for kodu
For those in the Apple ecosystem you might like to look at Swift Playgroundswhich is Apple's introductory coding platform. They are pairing up with hardware manufacturers the same way Tynker has. That means young kids and students will be able to write their own Swift code to control any number of real-world toys and machines. Swift Playgrounds will soon work with a number of top toy and robotics companies including LEGO, automated BB-8 toy maker Sphero, and drone company Parrot. 
Not matter what you choose continuing to encourage and inspire your child through exposure to any or all of these platforms will pay dividends. However it is preferable to find one platform your child likes and encourage them to master it before jumping off to something else.


Stuff in the news

State government scheme to fix woeful maths results by increasing specialist teachers has failed - A bold plan to multiply the number of specialist maths teachers in NSW public schools has been a massive failure for the NSW state government, scoring just 11 per cent of its target. An article from the Daily Telegraph 3 September 2017
3 Ways Coding Enhances Communication Skills - An article from the Tynker Blog

Stuff to buy

Cubelets - Cubelets Robot Blocks make it fast and easy to engage children as young as four in learning by building robots. There’s no wrong way to build with Cubelets, so it is remarkably easy to transform these blocks into brilliant bundles of robotic curiosity.
*At this point in time I earn no money from any product I list and I am not affiliated with any other company.

Stuff in education

Queensland Government unveils new STEM scholarship program - A new scholarship program has been launched in Queensland to support students studying STEM subjects at TAFE. An article from the Australian Mining website 17 July 2017
Who Says 6-Year-Olds Can’t Program Robots? Not This Pennsylvania First-Grade Teacher - A great article on how coding can make learning accessible to all and how a teacher took the initiative to upskill themselves to enable it. An article from The 74 website 27 August 2017

Schools have Dropped the Ball on Literacy - Primary school children are leaving school without the handwriting and keyboarding skills to thrive in writing tasks. An article from The Educator 1 September 2017 

Stuff to do Australia Wide

CodeCamp - Three day courses over the school holidays. Search for a school near you! 18-28 September 2017
LITTLE BIG IDEA -  The Big Competition for Inventive Little Kids (You could win a trip to NASA!). Closes 22 September 2017
NATA Young Scientist of the Year - Students are required to undertake an investigation around any topic relating to the theme of a sustainable planet. Closes 22 September 2017
Contemporary practices in STEM education - This will be a live streamed event of interest to teachers and parents. It is part of Monash University's "Engaging STEM Education. Keeping Teachers at the Cutting Edge" series. 9 November 2017
CSIRO CREST Program - CREativity in Science and Technology. Engage your students with open-ended science investigations and technology projects through the CREST program.
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Young Engineers Australia - Provides an engaging, hands-on learning platform using LEGO® and K’nex® assembly kits
CoderDojo - A volunteer run programming club
Code Club Australia - A global network of coding clubs for kids aged 9 to 11.

Stuff to do in Brisbane

Wizarding Workshops - Workshops are designed to accommodate Potter fans of various ages. Participants are grouped according to year levels and work in teams to complete projects at their ability level, challenged and supported by teachers. Paddington.23 September 2017
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SLQ Digital Futures - Each year the State Library of Queensland presents a theme of interest to the Queensland community. Throughout 2017, they invite you to join in exploring Digital Futures.
STEM in a Box has ongoing coding, robotics and 3D printing activities
Brisbane Library Service has purchased the very flash NAO Robot and is showing it off in various libraries.
The Cube at QUT has a number of changing programs. 
Brisbane Planetarium - Features entertaining and informative shows for adults and children
STEAMPUNX - Not to be confused with the organisation above! Offers in-school and out of school workshop programs
Flying Fox Studios - A studio offering programs in the arts, music and construction areas from babies to teenagers in Brisbane
It's Rocket Science School Incursions - Educational and fully interactive project based rocket science incursions for primary and secondary schools in a safe and empowering learning environment.

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