This is a personal blog post written by Deborah Carter, Founder and Managing Director of NewTechKids.

Feeling proud but a bit apprehensive. I just sent my high schooler son off to a pre-university course which happens to be in COMPUTER SCIENCE 😁! (Students in the final three years of his high school can take courses at Dutch universities alongside their regular subjects.)

I’m proud because he and his peers were largely the reason why I started NewTechKids and later PreparationTech. He was the original ‘guinea pig’ for NewTechKids’ classes though at some point he declared “no more computer science classes” and “I don’t want to do anything related to technology”. Thankfully, he found his way back to tech by producing hip hop beats with music software based on visual coding and developing a business plan for a new social media app.

I’m apprehensive because I have no idea how the instructor will teach computer science and who will be in his class (he doesn’t consider himself a nerd and he is used to mixed gender classes). If this is a negative experience for him, it will turn him off computer science once again. So fingers crossed.

After being in the tech education game for almost 10 years, here’s my two cents on how to consistently engage kids, teens and young adults with tech invention and computer science. Even if you expose kids to both from early on, it’s a constant process of re-engaging them and stressing the relevance of tech knowledge and skills as they age through the school system.

Here’s a summary of how I did it with my son:
1. Primary and middle school: mandatory and/or at least ongoing extracurricular computer science classes to establish foundational knowledge and skills, understanding of key concepts and critical thinking skills and to provide hands on tech invention experiences.
2. High school: Tech invention activities based on interests and hobbies, with a focus on creative and maker education exercises.
3. Pre-university and University: More advanced computer science education classes tied to creative pursuits, hobbies and interests and entrepreneurship. In essence, computer science, coding, AI, etc. are positioned as tools which can be used to invent/produce/make something and/or launch commercial or non-profit solutions. More than ever, young adults need to understand why they are studying something and have a clear purpose for doing so.

Although my son is interested in tech invention, he doesn’t plan to major in computer science at university but he will most likely take classes. And that is fine with me. Mission accomplished.

(Photo taken 9 years ago after one of NewTechKids’ first lessons after launch.)