This summer, NewTechKids taught a new round of computer science bootcamps to children ages 7-12.

We’ve been reviewing how and what we teach and how to engage a broad range of students, including kids with no previous exposure to computer science education, girls, minorities and children from low-income communities.

We concluded that in addition to teaching computational thinking skills and computer science concepts, our job is to inspire kids and to cultivate curiosity about technology: how it works, why it work and how to think in order to create technological solutions. We want to do this by making them aware of technology in their lives, concepts for new, cutting-edge technologies and the visionaries behind these, and study and employment opportunities related to technology. Let’s face it: it’s hard to want to become something if you don’t even know the job or discipline exists!

So our bootcamps, which were longer due to our summer vacation format, included a stronger focus on class discussions: technology used in different areas (sports, transportation, architecture, etc.) and the advantages, disadvantages and implications of these technologies.

We also continued to experiment with framing classroom challenges using real-world scenarios. For example, we taught kids about automation and self-driving vehicles by talking about the years-long garbage strike in Naples. We then challenged them to make sure this doesn’t happen again by designing and programming self-driving garbage trucks which can lift bins. We used this example from Volvo as inspiration.

We will continue to develop new teaching approaches for computer science and computational thinking education. We believe that a large reason why the technology industry remains overwhelmingly male is because of how computer science education is presented and taught, from primary school to university.

When we can teach all kids that technologists come in many shapes and forms, and that becoming a technologist is a life-long endeavour that they should start asap, real progress in technology education will be made.

(Photo: kids designing their dream city with a transportation system for self-driving robots.)