As a rare female in the IT industry, I’m obviously extremely passionate about girls learning STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). I’ve talked about this on several occasions. Not only am I passionate about girls learning code (since women currently make up only 14% of all computer science graduates) and technology, I’m passionate about kids in general learning these important skills. That’s why, when Animal Jam asked me to write a post about the benefits of kids learning to code, I said “heck yeah!” Yes, I’m the aunt that bought her nephew a domain name for Christmas (which he totally loves, by the way). Early on, my nephew would have several questions for me as he learned to hand code html pages. This is a great basis for the foundation of more complex languages like php. Now, I go to HIM with my coding needs.
I run the computers at my daughter’s home swim team meets. There is a super complicated algorithm for when the backup times and the touch pad times are WAY off. I made him write me something so I can just enter all of the appropriate times and it will spit out the adjusted final time for the swimmer. This same nephew of mine also recently started his sophomore year of high school and was accepted into a program at a local university that focuses their education on STEM fields. He is LOVING his new environment, and several of his friends and him are working together to create a game right now. I know it’s going to be fantastic!
So, here is where I need your help. Did you know that only 10% of US high schools offer computer science programming?? Yet the number of coding jobs in America is set to grow by 22% in the next few years! As I mentioned I am in IT. I have never gone more than a week without a job because my skills are in such high demand. This is why it is ESSENTIAL we expose our kids to these concepts early to see if it’s something they would be interested in pursuing. If they don’t know it’s out there, or they don’t know they have a knack for the logic and skills, then they will never want to pursue these types of careers! I’m not saying that STEM careers are for everyone, but by learning how to code, a child can learn how to train their mind in a different way, strategize creatively to solve a problem, to design a project or to communicate an idea. They also learn how to build on what others have already created — which will improve their chances of being employed in the future
I AM saying that kids should be as exposed to the concepts early on, just as they are hopefully exposed to art and music.
Animal Jam (which happens to be one of my daughters absolute favorite online games, Minecraft of course being first place) is also passionate about helping kids get excited about STEM careers. Recently they held a Code Camp in Salt Lake. I was really bummed that my daughter was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict. I am relieved to hear that they will be doing more of them though! The 3-day camp was able to show kids that there are so many different careers opportunities within STEM fields like programming robots and toys, developing and coding mobile applications and websites, engineering products that can solve problems, and so many more! You don’t have to be in Salt Lake though to take advantage of some of the great tools Animal Jam is putting out there to help kids get interested in STEM. It’s still a little bit sparse, but they recently released the Animal Jam Academy, which will have a lot of great resources for kids!
So, how can we expose our children to coding and STEM careers?
- Find programs like this code camp that Animal Jam put together. Programs like that are happening all over the country.
- Support organizations like GirlStart, which helps increase girls’ interest and engagement in STEM through innovative, nationally-recognized informal STEM education programs.
- Purchase games and toys that encourage logical thinking like Robot Turtles and GoldieBlox.
- Download apps like DragonBox, Tynker, and Amazing Alex
- Encourage them to learn keyboarding through websites like TypingInstructor
- As they get older let them use more sophisticated websites like codeacademy and code.org
- DON’T BE AFRAID OF TECHNOLOGY! This is so important for parents to understand that allowing kids access to technology in a SAFE environment (such as playing Animal Jam online, or Minecraft), will give them the core concepts they need to understand how to use technology in other forms. It can be amazing what your children can do on technology if you just give them a chance.
There are JOBS waiting for these kids, and we need to do everything we can to prepare them to be adults. Help me get kids and especially girls EXCITED about STEM!
This post is sponsored by AnimalJam. All thoughts are my own.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links.