Teaching coding and technology to children: that’s what Magic Makers, a startup and Econocom partner, plans to do. Through weekly courses and workshops, children can gradually get to grips with computer programming and learn how to design smart connected objects. From “tiny makers” (aged 6 and up) to teens, they all have the opportunity to invent, explore and have fun with programming language such as Scratch, devised for kids by researchers at MIT, and even Python.
On Monday 1sr February, Claude Terosier, co-founder and director of Magic Makers, was a guest on the “Tech & Co” programme on France’s BFM Business channel, and explained how she helps the younger generations become “digital makers.”
programmING? CHILD’S PLAY!
“The most-coveted toy at home is the computer. So when you allow kids to create something with a computer, they think it’s amazing!”
What if learning programming logic were easy? In the Magic Makers workshops, every effort is made to make learning code fun and engaging. With Littlebits – little building blocks, rather like Lego, combined with engines and sensors – kids can learn the basics of IoT and make their first connected devices, like, for example a little motorised car that can detect walls and stop when they get near one. As Claude Terosier explained when interviewed by Sébastien Couasnon:
“It’s really important for a child to understand that she can programme, and thus make the objects she plays with smart.”
The older kids, meanwhile, have workshops on Arduino boards – microcontroller-based kits for building digital devices and interactive objects – to make things such as lamps with sensors which switch on whenever someone comes into the room.
“We’re hoping that the children will become innovators, i.e. people who understand that by experimenting, you can find solutions.”
A CODE culture FOR GREATER Empowerment
According to Claude Terosier, parents who bring their kids to Magic Makers have realised that the world has gone digital, and that every aspect of human endeavour relies on computer programs now.
“All project leaders need to code at some point, or get someone else to do it. The aim of Magic Makers is not for every kid to become a developer, but to introduce them to the general code culture. Basically, the idea is that a child can look at a computer and think he can make it do whatever he wants!”
>>> See also: Coding: what all the cools kids are doing <<<
At the beginning of the 2016 academic year in France, programming will be part of the school curriculum from Year 8 (aged 12). And at primary school, teachers will be encouraged to do activities – with or without computers – to pave the way for “IT thinking”, i.e. a way of reasoning in a structured way and then translating it onto machines.
“If we want all kids to familiarise themselves with coding, we need to train the teachers first. At the moment, adults feel powerless where IT and everything that you can do with it are concerned.”
Magic Makers’ solution to this is Class’Code, a joint project with INRIA and Open classrooms which aims to provide teaching staff with innovative teaching material devised by the startup so that they too can learn to code and pass on their knowledge to students.
=> See the whole programme on BFM Business (in French only)