Living in the digital age, is it necessary for children to step into the science and technology world?
It is a sunny Sunday afternoon, people are all coming outside after the storm weather. But on the second floor of Cardiff University Queens Building, a bunch of kids are sitting in the room with their laptops, trying to use coding to discover signals in the galaxy.
This is Cardiff Kids Hackathon, part of the four-day Cardiff Science Festival. Any child from the ages of 10 to 15 can take part, spend an afternoon with experts and experienced volunteers and learn how to create art, design a game and be a hacker in real life.
“I also learned a lot through today’s Hackathon, it turns out that my kid knew more than I did, ” says a mother who spend a whole afternoon taking part in this event with her daughter. “Everyone here is amazing. They are putting effort in teaching technical skills to children. It is really important.”
Initiator of the Kids Hackathon, Tessa Carver, is a post-doctoral student. This idea of leading kids into science and technology in an easy and fun way has been running in her head for a long time. Now with the help of Cardiff Science Festival, it finally came true and achieved success.
“When I was young, I didn’t learn anything about coding. So when I was in University, I was so frustrated having to start so simple, like what they are doing now,” says Tessa. “It’s like learning another language, you feel so frustrating at the beginning because you don’t know anything and you feel so useless…But once you understand how you can use it, you will really appreciate this extra skill and be able to do more things…It can send them more options.”
Stepping into a world in which computer plays such an important role, Tessa is not the only one who realised how important tech-education is for children.
According to Tramshed Tech, a collaborative workspace home to the tech and creative industries of Cardiff, Welsh government has a digital education budget. Now some local authorities use it in different tech-education areas for children rather than just the classic IT class.
Besides, tech-driven companies in Cardiff, Wales as a whole is actively taking part in this field, pushing science education moving forward in a way that children enjoy.
“Our sister company undertake digital education with students. They go to school and teach students through Lego,” says Jess Phillips, Enterprise Innovation Manager of Tramshed Tech.
Tramshed itself is also setting up a centre to bring students into, to look at coding through mind craft and Lego education. “We are trying to do as much as possible to enable that to happen,” says Jess.
“Kids Hackathon is a really good thing. A lot of work is going into supporting younger children into the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) fields. It is a real way to engage children into tech.”
“I’m trying to set up a regular coding camp,” says Tessa. It may be hard to achieve by her own, but as a start, she really enjoys this afternoon seeing that all kids are sitting in front of their laptops, focusing on what they have learnt and helping each other to build their own project.
“Did you find the signals from space?” Tessa asks a girl beside her. She nods her head and says yes, with a shy but satisfied smile.