This post will be different because it’s location-specific, but the idea behind it is so cool that it could serve as an inspiration for people worldwide: Unplugged Computer Science.
We all know the woe with computer classes. They add up to the screen time which is at higher and higher rates among kids, to begin with.
I know parents worry about the amount of time kids spend with devices. But there are huge benefits of learning programming and the way it helps develop critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving. If only there would be a way to keep the benefits of programming with less screen time involved. Wouldn’t that be ideal? Keep reading to find the solution IObotics found.
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What is IObotics?
When I first virtually-met Vlad Isuf, in 2021, I immediately knew a couple of things about him: he is passionate about IT, robotics, and programming, he is an innovator and a solution seeker, and he loves teaching children!
Seeing such a young man devote all his time to helping kids learn the mysteries of computers from electronics to coding just made me feel that there’s still hope for better.
After graduating from the Faculty of Automatic Control and Computer Science in 2019, Vlad decided to work with kids. He’d previously worked with underprivileged kids as a volunteer and realized that’s what he wanted to keep doing- teach young minds what he knows best- computer science.
Here’s Vlad’s story and how he started IObotics in 2021:
“In the summer of 2019 I watched this Ted Talk: A Delightful Way to Teach Kids About Computers by Linda Liukas. From that moment, I’ve decided that this is what I’m going to do: I’ll create a Computer Science School. During my spare time I’ve done a stupendous amount of research on how to teach CS to kids, I’ve bought all the Hello Ruby Books and read all Linda’s articles.
I’ve met a lot of kids in my short journey and I’m very grateful that I’ve had an impact on their education. Several of them I’ve made a connection with and they are now a part of IObotics.”— Vlad Isuf, Founder
But Vlad didn’t stop there. It’s amazing how his drive to know more and help children understand and love programming, pushes him to constantly seek innovative ways to do this. This is how he came up with IObotics Unplugged (Computer Science) Summer Camp.
IObotics Unplugged Computer Science – Summer Camp
This concept isn’t new, but I love the way Vlad decided to implement it and his dedication to this project.
IObotics Unplugged Computer Science Summer Camp is a week-long summer camp where kids will learn programming and other computer science skills without a computer!
Camp details – Bucharest location
Vlad thought to shake things up over the summer and bring kids together (in Bucharest) for a week full of IObotics activities where they can connect and socialize while learning teamwork, collaboration, critical thinking, and computer science.
(There will be more weeks planned and the maximum number of children per week is 10-12)
The camp will take place in Bucharest, so those of you lucky enough to be there in July, don’t miss it! Here are the details:
Vlad has in store a lot of activities planned for the week and every day will be focused on one main activity while children will be working in teams, socializing, and having fun!
- Monday: Binary Numbers
- Tuesday: Kid Bots
- Wednesday: Error Detection
- Thursday: Searching Alg
- Friday: Sorting Networks
Aside from all that, kids will have electronic classes and activities every day. M would have LOVED to be a part of this camp! Too bad we don’t live closer.
Computer Science benefits – start at home
We’ve all heard how awesome computer classes are. But what if your child isn’t interested in computers? Why would you coax them to learn some computer skills?
Let’s start with why teaching programming or coding are important skills, not only for the kids that love coding and computers but for everyone, regardless of their field.
Computer science activates a lot of areas and skills that are useful for life:
- critical thinking – there are multiple ways kids can choose to solve a programming issue. The more they use this type of thinking the more efficient they get.
- problem solving – we all know computers mean troubleshooting and thinking outside the box. These are important skills for any future job.
- growth mindset – through computer science, kids can learn it’s ok to make mistakes because they are learning. This bit of knowledge can then easily apply to all the other subjects, helping them grow and persevere.
All these skills lead to metacognition. Metacognition is the process of thinking about thinking. It involves planning, assessing, and predicting what will happen. This is what we ultimately want our kids to become: thinkers and critical learners. We want them to understand what they do and why they do it; to troubleshoot try again, and think out of the box.
Can you do this offline?
Here are some activities that can be used to enhance the skills outlined above. You can find many more on the internet (I saved a few on my Pinterest board) and you can start doing these at home to encourage critical thinking, problem-solving, and a growth mindset.
- Programming Robots – the easiest way to program without a screen is to get a programming robot. We have Botley and even though it looks simple at first glance, giving it a string of complex commands can become quite a thinking feat. You also need to re-program it if you missed a step or didn’t think about it. So it’s a perfect example of perseverance.
(Buy Botley in Romania here).
- Sequences – these sound pretty easy at a first glance. But just try it yourself! A computer does EXACTLY as it is told to, it won’t be able to guess what you actually meant, it just follows commands. I don’t know how many of you know about the peanut butter sandwich experiment (it’s hilarious). But it’s a great way to get kids thinking about sequences (and details!).
- Legos – there are a ton of ideas on Lego used as a tool for coding skills!
- Sudoku – again, doesn’t seem like much, but this simple puzzle will teach kids decomposition, thinking of the bigger picture, and trial and error! Try these free puzzles to get started.
- Follow verbal instructions – this is very much like following a sequence. Kids are asked to follow instructions to get a result. It can be anything, from building something to a string of instructions for things to do around the house in a certain order.
- Coded language – this one is so fun! Invent your own alphabet or use an existing one, like Morse code, binary or even some ancient Egypt hieroglyphs. Try to write and read messages coded this way.
IObotics Unplugged Benefits
Now that we’ve seen the benefits of offline computer science, IObotics Unplugged makes a lot of sense! IObotics is taking the main paths of thinking in computer science and transforming them into interactive, hands-on, offline activities! So these classes would be a great start to introducing kids to robotics, programming, and electronics.
Here’s what kids will gain from this camp:
- all the computer science benefits outlined above
- collaboration – working in teams
- solving problems
- thinking creatively
- electronics hands-on for easy transitioning to robotics
- concrete skills for computer science before abstract
It’s pretty hard for kids to grasp the abstract concepts before the concrete ones. That’s why doing offline activities with kids before plopping them in front of a screen to understand how computers work is better.
For example, how do you go on explaining what bits are and how they work? Just reading the theoretical part from a book won’t help much.
But play a game where you progressively introduce the concept of bits by letting kids figure out for themselves how they work. The teacher becomes a coordinator in a group activity where kids discover the answers for themselves.
IObotics Unplugged Computer Science Summer Camp will open the door to computer science understanding, collaboration, teamwork and critical thinking.
Here’s a short video of IObotics Unplugged Summer Camp where you can see Vlad collaborate with kids; and M trying to play some offline computer science games:
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