Sponsored By SoCal Toyota

By Lori Melton

In today’s expansive digital landscape, it’s not surprising some children know how to install and use the latest apps and software and use devices better than their parents. In fact, your child may come home from a trip to Grandma’s house gushing about teaching her how to send an email, use copy and paste or build a Minecraft house. Technology impacts nearly every facet of our lives, from school and work to social interactions, and some kids dream of becoming future technological wizards. Here are three ways to support your budding techie’s avid interest in technology.

Learn Coding and Animation on Khan Academy

Khan Academy is an excellent free educational website for K-12 students, parents and teachers which offers lessons, challenges, and games on a variety of STEAM-related subjects. Tech lovers can browse the “Computing” section for a list of multiple programming and coding lessons including Intro to Programming, Intro to JS (JavaScript): Drawing & Animation, Intro to HTML/CSS: Making Web pages, Intro to SQL: Querying and Managing Data and more.

Students can learn how to make a webpage, write code, and debug problems. Aspiring video game designers-animators should enjoy the Disney-sponsored Pixar in a Box course, which takes a “behind-the-scenes look at how Pixar artists do their jobs.” Students will build a robot army, animate bouncing balls, and make virtual fireworks explode via a fun, interactive online learning environment.

Attend a Summer Tech Camp

Kids age seven to 17 can learn about coding, robotics, game development and design while meeting other kids who share their interests at one of ID Tech’s innovative hands-on, interactive weeklong summer camps. In the “Code-a-Bot: AI and Robotics with Your Own Cozmo” program, for example, students work with a responsive AI friend named Cozmo who squeals, giggles and reacts while tackling tasks with a human partner like making an alarm clock with visual coding and creating AI behaviors.

Teens 13-17 can learn coding and game development with Java, C++ and more and even build a take-home laptop and use it to invent a game, song, or a light show. Course fees and content vary per weeklong program. Over 130 participating college campuses across the country host camps each year.  An all-girl camp mixing tech and social activism called Alexa Café is also offered for girls age 10-15.

Take on an “IT Apprentice”

If you’re setting up an in-home network for wi-fi and printer sharing, installing the latest gaming platform, or programming your favorite channels into your new tablet or TV, ask your child to be your IT partner on the project. There’s no better way for a tech-curious child to learn about a gadget, device, or network than by helping the resident family IT “pro” on the job by reading the manual, connecting cables, installing apps, and programming functions and settings. Plus, working together on this kind of project is a fantastic way to build tech skills and carve time out of a hectic family schedule to be with each other.

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