Code For Kids Redux: Blogging and Design Workshops

Code For Kids really had their work cut out for them this weekend, running two different workshops for two different age groups. And once again, they really delivered.

The slide at Shopify (Closed during the workshop for safety reasons :) (Credit: spydergrrl)

Workshop 1: Blogging 

The morning session was dedicated to teaching kids aged 7-9 to run their own blog. Each child was given a Wordpress site to work from, which they can continue managing afterwards. They learned all the basics:
  • writing posts
  • embedding links, images and videos
  • adding captions and attribution (including a brief overview of intellectual property concerns)
  • Internet security (disclosure, comments, chatting with strangers)
  • blog look and feel
I was lucky enough to have been invited to present part of the session and I truly enjoyed myself. The kids really latched onto the concepts quickly and were cranking out short posts complete with links, images and videos within a mere couple of hours. A number of parents stayed for the workshop, since their kids were so young, and not surprisingly some of the kids caught onto the concepts even faster than their parents did. It was wonderful to see kids schooling Mom or Dad about the things they'd just learned; even the adults were getting quite a kick out of it.

The only thing that seemed to hold the kids back was their typing prowess. But that was entirely the point of the workshop: to demonstrate that they are capable of producing content and owning their own space online. The subtext was really that if they practice their typing skills, they are essentially limitless in what they can do online, even at a young age. I'm pretty sure that mission was accomplished.

Attendees at Code For Kids Blogging Workshop (Credit: spydergrrl)

Workshop 2: Design Thinking

The afternoon session was truly awesome: kids aged 9-12 were introduced to design concepts such as ideation and prototyping through a hands-on workshop. They drew, coloured, painted, moulded and brainstormed their way through redesigning everyday implements like chairs and desks. The kids were encouraged to think outside the box in coming up with their concepts which yielded a lot of Star Trek-like automated robotic machine ideas.

A completely analog setup for the design workshop (Credit: spydergrrl)

More art supplies for the design workshop (Credit: spydergrrl)
The kids worked in teams and were given specific instruction to expand on the idea of a seatmate (rather than their own idea). It made for an inclusive, respectful environment. So much so that I decided to steal the approach for my next workshop.

Getting started: Ideation (Credit: spydergrrl)
The best part of the session was the hands-on portion: after they finished designing their ideas, they went for art supplies and started prototyping. Each team them presented their prototype to the group. Naturally, the vision in their minds was stronger than the execution but that was part of the learning process: the whole design process (especially prototyping) is hard but it can help clarify ideas and test out concepts in a real world environment, to determine if they are actually feasible.

The teams did really well, and were highly engaged with the interactive hands-on format as you can see in the images below. For the record, here's a sample of the ideas the teams came up with:
  • a machine that takes the tomatoes out of sandwiches
  • a robotic circular desk with a built in electronic dictionary, elevator to retrieve office supplies, padded chair with built in water cooler 
  • password, lock protected desk and chair
  • desk organizer and cushion chairs
  • a virtual reality style helmet and couch (oculus rift!)

Desk and chair prototype (Credit: spydergrrl)

Desk and robot prototype (Credit: spydergrrl)

Desk prototype (Credit: spydergrrl)

Team presentations (Credit: spydergrrl)

    How Do I Get My Kid In On This?

    If you don't have your name on the mailing list, you should head over to the Code For Kids website to register for announcements and updates. More events are planned for late Fall in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal.