Parents are often shocked when we tell them that during our programs, we teach core technology, programming and computer science concepts through pen and paper exercises, role-play games, and design and prototyping activities using simple materials such as cardboard boxes and blocks.
Others wonder why, in an era of computers and gadgets, apps and programming languages made especially for kids, we teach many no tech lessons.
We’ve developed our pedagogy and teaching approaches based on the observation that kids’ fingers are faster than their brains. They may know how to navigate the Internet, use electronic devices, and even code but if you dig deeper, many tech whiz kids don’t actually understand technology: how it works, why it works, and most importantly, how to think in order to create new technology solutions.
No tech lessons allow us to focus on helping kids strengthen their thinking and problem-solving skills without the distraction of technology. We challenge kids to make their own binary cards out of paper and de-code secret messages from their classmates. We get them to design robot heads out of cardboard boxes and then write code by hand. We play games with apples to teach them logic and sequential thinking.
We slow down the learning process in order to make sure that kids understand the fundamentals before we introduce technology tools such as Raspberry Pi computer kits and LEGO Mindstorms robots.
We think that this combination of no tech and technology lessons strikes a good balance and reminds kids that technology may seem complicated but often the thinking and structures behind it are not.