I’ve just gotten back from a local primary school, where I was running an activity for National Science Week, to teach the kids a bit about computer science. Today was years 1 to 3. Yup, teaching computer science to 6, 7 and 8 year-olds. It was really interesting watching the year 1s have all sorts of trouble with things that the year 2s found really easy – the concept of ‘sort these bits of paper’, for example. And the difference between year 2’s and year 3’s awareness of the Internet – when we asked who had heard of the Internet, we got about half a dozen hands up from the 2s, but with the 3s it was pretty much universal. We even had a couple of kids asking us at the end about how to get an web page of their own. Year 3s! I only just got a webpage of my own!
With kids that young, my aims are:
- to keep them entertained for the full time allotted, because it’s pretty painful to be stuck in a room with 30-odd bored kids, especially if it’s your job to keep them occupied, and
- hopefully to instill an idea along the lines of “computer science == fun”, and usually also “computer science != sitting on your own in front of a computer being asocial and weird”
With the 4s-7s on Wednesday I’ll add a little bit of number 3, which is “learn something about computer science”, in this case some graph stuff (shortest path and possibly spanning trees) and greedy/non-greedy algorithms, with a bit of sorting thrown in for fun..
<plug>And if that sounds interesting and you want to know more, come to Curtin’s Open Day on Sunday and visit me in the Science & Engineering tent, where I’ll (hopefully) have a bunch of cool stuff for learning about computer science in ways that are fun!</plug>