11 year old tech prodigy who will soon probably be able to hack into anything on the planet!…. At least that’s what I gathered from observing him and his brother at the #TechShop4KidsNola workshop.
Here’s what I can tell you about the workshop.
It was very well organized and covered every area it set out to in its action plan.
Its founder and lead instructor is Ilvin Parker, The CEO of Techsterz. It’s a 3-5 hour course for kids ages 9-16. However, this particular one had kids ranging from ages 8-13. This workshop is designed to impact kids in technology and improve their STEM Robotics understanding. They engage in three technology based exercises and a group robotics project. The highlight of the workshop was the coding of the robot’s movement and the mBot battles at the end of the session.
I was blown away by what these kids accomplished. There were 3 major tasks.
1) They coded their own computer games
They learned to navigate their way through SCRATCH which is a programming language that lets you create your own interactive stories, animations, games etc. It seemed very complex to me, but here you have these 8 year olds taking instruction very well, and then incorporating individual creativity and a willingness to learn, who in the end produced some really cool animations. They were able to put their characters in any type of setting while telling it what to do each time a certain key was pressed or the mouse was clicked. I saw some characters dance, fight battles and even sing. Mr. Parker was also able to teach them how to change their character’s appearance. One little girl was able to create the Disney Princess Tiana as her game character. When this part was over, they took turns watching each other’s animations. It was so refreshing to see them laugh and then pat each other on the back for a job well done.
2) They developed their own team building strategies.
This task required them to get into groups and choose a project manager who then appointed the other members to perform specific roles. This was a great critical thinking exercise. One group based their decision off of a good old fashioned round of Paper, Scissors, Rock! LOL (don’t act like you’ve never done it)
3) They built and programmed robots
That’s right! These kids took what looked like a thousand pieces and assembled them into moving, intelligent robots! Once they were all assembled, it went from 0-100 real quick. There were battles going on to see whose robot was the toughest. There was a race to see whose robot was the fastest. Remember Jonas, the 11 year old I told you about in the beginning? Well he found a way to defeat the competition by hacking into their robots. Of course the others would get frustrated and his older brother kept telling him to stop. LOL! This was hilarious to me because when I was their age, all we fought over was the TV remote. If I had access to workshops like this, I probably could have built my own remote that over powered everyone else’s.
“Teamwork was the most important lesson learned throughout the entire group assignment. During the competition each team member had already built a relationship with each other during the assembly process which made it easier to coach each other on the sideline to bring their team to a victory.” ~ Parker
In the end, during the award ceremony, one lucky young lady got to go home with her very own mBot.
“The little girl was very reserved and extremely clingy to her cute lil purse that never touched the floor ( it just hung off her knee like an old soul as she sat in the chair). She never spoke a word to me at first, but I always felt her presence when I passed. After advising the parents to allow their kids to continue programming at home, her grandmother told me they did not have a laptop. When I heard this I immediately knew she was going to receive a blessing.” ~Parker
As each day advances, so does technology. These kids were able to grasp the other side of technology and become the creator instead of the user. I think every kid should have this opportunity to learn this at an early age. I pray Mr. Parker obtains the necessary funding to keep these workshops FREE and open to the public. It’s always a blessing to be able to give back like that. You can follow Techsterz Instagram account to find out when and where the next one will be.
The pictures were shot by Norie Anderson Photography: Email Norie
Blog Entry written by Norie Anderson: Norie Anderson