• Jeffrey Goldfarb

Child Computer Programming

Updated: Nov 14, 2019

Computer Programming | Technology | Education | Buffalo, NY | Certified B Corp

When I was much younger the big “toy” to boost early adolescent learning were the BBC MUZZY Courses. I remember watching some of the big green monster’s adventures in some of my earliest Spanish classes back in Elementary school. Well, today there are still new toys coming out to promote children learning a second language, but it’s not the kind of language one uses in foreign countries.

Lego, a company always ready to help launch a child’s imagination, is launching a new building and coding set for children. Rather than building stationary structures, which replicate various landscapes and scenes from famous movies and television shows, children will now have the opportunity to build five different “smart” toys, with sensors and motors. These Toys are linked to “a corresponding app featuring 60 coding activities.”[1] This kit to promote coding will be available for purchase later this year.

Lego is not the only company tapping into the early childhood market. Algobrix started as a kickstarter campaign to help teach kids under 13 how to code and program small robots. Children line up symbols across a Lego board, which represent a line of code and are rewarded by lights, colors, and sound when they successfully line up a proper code function.[2] With a goal of fundraising $50,000 by September of this year, Algobrix surpassed their goal in less than one month.[3] Now with the necessary funds the company plans on beginning assembly January 2018.

There is no doubt computers, electronics, and robotics will continue to be the future of development. It’s clear this is a widespread belief if a startup focusing on educational children’s toys in this field was able to exceed its required funds in under a month online. But it does raise a question too. Four years ago surveys suggested 21 percent of American adults “read below a 5th grade level and 19 percent of high school graduates can’t read.”[4] The same survey has 32 million adults listed as unable to read at all.[5] There has also been a long standing slump in the number of Americans able to speak multiple languages (excluding the ones raised in bilingual households). There was nearly a 7% decline in high school students taking a foreign language from 2014 to 2015.[6]

So the question that our current path towards electronic proficiency raises is how social will our futures be. While the value of communication with computers and electronics is on the rise, the value of communication with other humans seems to be on the decline. As important as computer programming proficiency may be to ensure children have employment opportunities in the future, are we overlooking the importance of socialization and human interaction?

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