Recently, we heard the story of a first-year Architecture student at a Dutch university being surprised at the novelty of 3D printing in construction projects. This despite the fact that since 2013, the Dutch architectural firm DUS Architects has been 3D printing a canal house in Amsterdam which is scheduled for completion in 2018. The project has received significant media coverage in both the Dutch and international media and President Barack Obama visited the site during a visit to Amsterdam.

There’s all kinds of amazing technological innovations happening around the world which receive media attention. These innovations are great tools which parents and teachers can use to trigger discussions which make children aware of the benefits of studying computer science, programming, technology systems and design.

Many primary school-aged children are aware of the possibilities to work at top tech companies. What NewTechKids has found while teaching children during school lessons and after-school programs is that:

  1. Kids are less aware that technologists work in all fields and domains, including health, education, finance, sports, architecture, construction, agriculture and farming, transportation, retail, and art and design; and
  2. Kids don’t understand that they will need a basic level of computer science and technology understanding to work in teams with technologists, even if they are not technologists themselves.

To broaden children’s understanding of the usefulness of studying computer science and programming and technology design, NewTechKids recommends that parents and teachers do the following:

Tip #1: Ask your child the area in which she or he is interested in studying or working. Show them how technology is transforming this area and what technology-related jobs are available in this area. One of our students expressed a desire to work at a fast food restaurant because he likes French fries so we showed him Flippy, the first burger-flipping robot in California, and discussed the designers, engineers, programmers and kitchen supervisors needed to make Flippy work efficiently. Another student said she wants to be a train driver so we showed her the longest driverless train system in Dubai and discussed how it is run by a team which includes engineers, programmers, data scientists, security personnel and others.

Tip #2: Every week, pick a traditional field or domain (agriculture, retail, garbage collection, customer service, etc.) and identify cutting-edge technology which is being used to transform it (robots, robotics, AI, apps, online games, Web sites). Watch online videos with your child and talk about the profession(s) of the people who invented it, why they invented it and if possible, how they received their expertise (study, hobbies, startups).

Tip #3: Play games with children to encourage them to explore how the nature of jobs has changed because of technology development. For example, parents and teachers can describe jobs which were normal ‘back in the day’ and then challenge children to discover how technology has transformed these jobs today. For example, ‘back in the day’ it was up to referees to make all of the calls during sports matches. Children will discover that today, referees are assisted and even replaced by technology such as ball tracking, instant replay and goal line technology produced by companies such as Hawk-Eye Innovations.

Get started by talking to children about how technology is transforming the sports industry and why having computer science, programming and technology design knowledge and skills will open the doors to many sports-related jobs now and in the future.

Photo: Photo illustrating goal line technology.