Technology for Children and Families

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Online STEM Summer Camps for Kids - lots of tech, maker and science project ideas to keep kids busy at home

Are your kids going to be spending time at home this summer? Do you need some ideas to get them doing something other than playing Minecraft all day everyday (much as we love Minecraft!) How about an online STEM summer camp?

We've found some brilliant tech summer camps that kids can take part in from home. Many have offline activities for kids to complete as well as online ones.

My kids love earning badges and cards through doing online activities. These camps are educational, but kids have much more control over what they learn that they have in school.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Our First Sighting of BB-8 - Getting Excited for Star Wars the Force Awakens

BB-8 is one of the new droids in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We're rather lucky because we've already had chance to meet BB-8. Well a clever approximation of the droid anyway. We were at Winchester Science Festival this weekend, representing So Make It, our local maker space. Our friend James from XRobots brought along his BB-8. It really balances and moves and can be remote controlled (see the video later in this post.) My older son was very pleased to get a go at remote controlling BB-8.

BB-8 is a spherical droid with a head that stays on top as the sphere rotates beneath it. It looks like BB-8 will have a similar role to R2-D2 in the original movies.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Crafteeo Kids Cardboard Costume Kits with Electronics

Yesterday afternoon my boys were planning some cardboard costumes with electronics in and then I saw this new project on Kickstarter. Crafteeo kits help kids make cardboard armour with programmable lights. Cool.

This is definitely our kind of project! Our house is full of bits of cardboard armour and electronics. Now many families will have children with those interests but might not have the expertise or time to help them to make something from scratch, and the Crafteeo armour looks very professional too.

The Kickstarter includes a variety of weapons and armour in kit form with some options for digital PDF templates too. It's the Pulsar Helmet and Pulsar Armor projects that include electronics to light up a panel.

Crafteeo will use an off-the-shelf Arduino-compatible microcontroller for the light effects. Online tutorials will be available at three different levels to teach kids from age 8+ about electronics and coding. Assembling and programming Crafteo armour is a very practical application of electronics and coding skills which nicely builds on kids interests to teach them new skills.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Best Websites for Children to Learn to Code - Summer 2015 Edition

So your child wants to learn to code or you would like to introduce them to coding. There are lots of fantastic websites that help kids learn programming skills, but where should you start?  I've tried out lots of coding websites for children at the school where I teach, with my own children and at the CoderDojo that I volunteer at. I thought it would be useful to pull together some of my favourite resources with some guidance on ability levels, level of adult support needed, cost (many are free or offer some resources for free) and other information to help you pick the right sites for your children.

I'll focus on home use here rather than use in schools or clubs. We'll start with coding websites suitable for younger children and move up through the age groups.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

9 Top Tips for the best Maker Faire experience with Kids

Last year we went to our first ever Maker Faire.  We piled the kids in the car and off we went, soon arriving at a big hall, packed to the brim with gadgets and gizmos, activities to try and weird and wonderful things to explore.  Our youngest child was 3, and although he enjoyed some of it, I was glad we didn't have to squeeze a buggy into the space.  It was a long, but thoroughly enjoyable day out with the family.  We learnt a few tricks from our first experience at a Maker Faire.  Hopefully they can help you have a brilliant day out at a Maker Faire near you.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

A Young Rewired State Experience - Festival of Code

First posted on Growing Coders, now part of Tech Age Kids

First year experience

"In the summer my son attended the Young Rewired State week of coding. We had to travel a far way to get to his centre and on one of the days I worked in the same building where the young starters gathered. It turned out that I sat in the same workspace as them for an afternoon.

It was an incredible experience to be a ‘fly on the wall’ at this event. There were 12 or so 13 to 17 year olds sitting in a workspace interacting with each other, leading brainstorming sessions, helping each other with difficult code, sharing ideas, trouble shooting bugs. I was amazed.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Technology for Kids Crowdfunding Roundup - July 2015 Edition

Technology for children is thriving on crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. These projects are often a step ahead of what you can buy through mainstream retailers. If you're willing to take the chance of a crowdfunded project you can help your kids become early adopters of some very cool technology. This isn't like buying an off-the-shelf product though so make sure you understand what you're signing up for.

Themes for July 2015 are tech for girls, board games to teach coding, and educational robotics. There are some fun ideas for taking tech outside too.