Coding + Making = Future Inventors

NESTA (the National Endowment for Science Technology and Art in the UK) defines ‘Digital Making’ as: ‘Learning about technology though the process of making it yourself’- 2013 report title ‘Young Digital Makers’.

We at Tech Will Save Us think this is a pretty great definition and should be something that young people experience regularly in their childhood, parents understand and are given options to support this, and something that teachers have training and budget to include in their teaching plans and governments encourage and incentivise.

We like this definition for its simplicity but we love it because it focuses on technology as a whole, and not solely on programming, which is getting a lot of air time from governments, parents and brands in the world at the moment. And although we know programming is a hugely important skill, is the goal really to create a generation of programmers? We hope not!

So where do young people do this ‘digital making’? Well, some of them are lucky enough to have engineer, programmer or technical parents. Some of them are lucky enough to go to a code club or after school programs where they get to make things with tech, and even fewer of them are doing this in school. And yet again, according to the NESTA over 8M young people in the UK are estimated to have an interest in trying ‘digital making’, but only 130,000 such learning opportunities were available in 2014.

Cathy Davidson, a scholar of learning technology, concluded that 65% of children entering grade school this year will end up working in careers that haven’t even been invented yet. We think kids will invent future jobs based on playing with Minecraft, making thirsty plant detectors in their kitchens and designing their own games controlled by their micro:bits. This is why Tech Will Save Us is focusing on sparking the creative imagination of young people using hands-on technology.

We don’t know what every young person is going to become passionate about. But we believe if parents and kids can have more opportunities to make, explore and have fun with technology, these creative experiences will give them the confidence to become lifelong learners and invent their futures.

Over the years we’ve worked alongside kids, parents and educators and we’ve found that when you introduce coding for physical devices it boosts confidence, enthusiasm and leaves the kids wanting to do more. Take a look at this case study we created with the American School London and this one from DiscoverE, to hear what kids themselves think.

Originally published at www.techwillsaveus.com.