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Inspiring tech innovators of the future

This Games Careers Week, we hear from Jeni Trice, CEO, Founder and Chief Coding Adventurer at Get with the Program about how they partner with schools and businesses to deliver exciting tech learning events for students with the aim to inspire today’s students to become the tech innovators of the future.

Games Careers Week is a fantastic opportunity to engage young people with exciting topics and introduce them to the opportunities awaiting them in the working world. I founded Get with the Program to inspire the tech innovators of the future, so I’m delighted to be writing this guest blog about the very topic I’m hugely passionate about! 

Inspiring children with a coding adventure!

At Get with the Program we use storytelling and performance to take primary school children on an exciting interactive coding adventure! The idea is to inspire and engage them as they learn coding concepts, and at the same time open their eyes to exciting future career possibilities in computing, tech and of course gaming.

With stimulating themes like ‘moon landing’ and ‘eco coding’, the shows help children to see the amazing potential of technology, and how computing can be used in our everyday lives – to solve problems, help us make better decisions or just for fun! Each 20 minute show has an accompanying range of absorbing unplugged activities too, which embed the learning and continue the theme.

During lockdown we decided to see if we could successfully convert our shows to a virtual format, and we were delighted to reach nearly a quarter of a million children worldwide with our virtual coding panto. In fact, we’ve also converted our Eco Coding show to a virtual format, and it too has been a great success.

The impact so far

We think it’s essential to get children excited about computing from a really early age – well before they choose their GSCEs. By doing that we’re setting them on a path of discovery, as it’s these children who will lead us into the future.

We’re delighted to have received some incredible feedback from the audience that matters most – children say they LOVE meeting ‘Professor Trice’ and ‘Al the Robot’ and have even been excitedly making robots at home! We’ve also received some wonderful feedback from teachers, parents and carers who seem to have enjoyed the shows nearly as much as the children.

Insights, challenges and what we’ve learnt

We’ve learnt a lot along the way about what it really takes to inspire children to get excited about computing. Here are my top five insights.

  1. Not everyone ‘gets’ computing – but you can take everyone on the journey. We realised we needed to connect to the more creatively focused students, who need encouragement to recognise that their talents can be used in tech. We needed to create a lightbulb moment!

 

  1. Physical, kinaesthetic learning is really, really important. By using a physical representation of the processes inside a computing system, we could create this lightbulb moment. We found that it works for everyone – children who are naturally drawn to computers, and those who struggle with more abstract concepts.

 

  1. You can transition to virtual shows and still use physical, kinaesthetic learning. It’s harder to achieve, but with creativity, opportunities for interaction (children often yell at the screen during our shows!), and the right follow-up activities, you can still do it

 

  1. Unplugged follow-up activities are even more important in this post-COVID-19 environment. These become vitally important to embed the learning in a physical way through body movement and conversation with others, when it’s harder to demonstrate it in person. They’re also hugely enjoyable for the children.

 

  1. Running interactive virtual shows is a challenge, but it’s possible. It’s been a huge challenge going from running in-person shows in school assemblies to running virtual shows with 1000+ participants where you can’t see your audience and whether they’re joining in! However, it’s been a real delight to see the videos and photographs of students fully engaging in our virtual shows, and a joy to watch them responding to our enthusiasm with even more of their own. It’s made every moment of the effort that we put in truly worth it, and I’m excited to see what the future brings for these inspired, engaged children.

If you’d like to know more about how we’re inspiring the tech innovators of the future and how we link up schools and business to make it happen, please check out our website at www.getwiththeprogram.org.uk, or get in touch for a chat! getintouch@getwiththeprogram.org.uk

Contact details:

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LinkedIn:         www.linkedin.com/company/get-with-the-program