A group of more than 350 school kids working to solve the world's problems? It's a joke, right?
If you think so, you'd be just as wrong as someone who thinks modern tech has no place in the classrooms of today.
A national organisation helping school children in the digital era, Code Club Aotearoa, is holding its largest-ever Mashup in Wellington this week. About 350 children and 50 mentors will be on hand to work on solving the world’s problems.
Children from the ages of 9 to 12 from 25 schools throughout Wellington will spend the day at Te Papa on Thursday, working with mentors from some of New Zealand’s brightest technology companies to come up with solutions to everyday problems.
Code Club co-founder Michael Trengrove says the Mashup teaches children how to use clever thinking, coding, data, technology and their imaginations to solve real world problems. “The children do not need to be tech savvy as the day is designed to inspire different interests and personalities ," he says. "We tell the children that it’s not just about being a coder; they could be a thinker, a doer, a builder or a problem solver."
The need to teach computational thinking to young New Zealanders has been recognised by the Government, too, with the announcement that digital technology is to be included as part of the official curriculum's technology learning component. To that end, Education Minister Hekia Parata recently announced the funding of $1 million for education and digital technologies providers.
Trengrove says computational thinking helps shape students understanding of the world around them. By learning the basics of how to code, students learn how to solve problems, communicate effectively, work in a team and persevere when faced with difficulties, he says. "Parents and teachers are taking part in the Mashup because it helps them grasp the different learning needs of young people, especially in regards to preparing children for the future of work. We are holding follow-up workshops for teachers in Wellington after the Mashup."
The 50 mentors taking part come from several different sectors and businesses of all sizes. Those providing mentorship on the day include Assurity, Google, TradeMe, Xero, OMG Tech, FabLab ChCh, Hive Dunedin and Te Papa’s new innovation incubator, Mahuki.
Code Club Aotearoa is a charity that partners with primary schools and industry and uses the knowledge of a nationwide volunteer network to help children learn to code. A total of 225 clubs are operating nationwide, from Whangarei to Bluff, teaching more than 5000 Kiwi kids to code.