New learning product gets computers and coding onto the primary play table
(Cardiff, February 11th, 2014) Cardiff-based Dad and former Silicon Valley software developer, Dan Bridge, this week launches his thirty day funding drive on Kickstarter for “Craft Computer Club”, a new product set to revolutionise the way in which computer skills – specifically computational thinking and coding – are taught to primary age children, comprising a colourful craft book with online support resources.
A father of two, Dan acknowledged that tactile engagement with educational materials was critical in successful early years learning. Rather than develop a passive, screen-based product, he went back to basics, focusing on the things his own children love, teaching modern ideas through traditional methods – scissors, paper and glue. Dan explains:
“I initially developed The Craft Computer Club for my 5 year old daughter, who, like all other children, loves to cut and stick. As friends and family asked if they could use it too, I realised I could be onto something. My aim was to make it easy for anyone to use and I have designed particularly for parents who may not feel technically confident, but want to help children adopt twenty first century skills in a way that doesn’t involve simply sitting in front of a screen.
“As the UK Government launches initiatives such as the Year of Code and shows a firm commitment to making computational thinking a critical part of our national curriculum, I’m excited by how much this product could achieve. It’s simple, accessible and fun to use. It has a place at every play table.
Through his work as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) ambassador, Dan piloted the scheme over six weeks with a primary class of twenty girls.
“During the pilot, the girls learnt about the internal components of a computer, making their own models and moving on to games teaching them aspects of computing such how algorithms work and other facets of programming. By the end, they had a fantastic grasp on the workings of a computer, and how they relate to programs and programming. I took them to see Sony’s Raspberry Pi being made at the end of the course – it was incredible hearing six year olds point to a Pi and say ‘that’s the CPU, it runs programs’.”
Further pilot kits have been distributed to teachers, whilst workshops at GameCity 2013 proved extremely popular. GameCity organiser Iain Simons said:
“There’s been a huge amount of talk about making coding accessible, but I don’t think there’s been anything quite like Craft Computer Club for injecting those ideas with material joy. We welcomed Craft Computer Club to the GameCity festival in 2013, where they instantly became one of the most popular elements. It’s a beautiful mix – code and craft; putting the complexity, fun and ideas of computing directly into people’s hands.”
Further endorsement has come from Stuart Ball, Microsoft’s Partners in Learning UK Programme Manager:
“These resources are ideal for young children when they are at their most creative. It is the most perfect way to help them develop their computational thinking processes and prepare them for a future that has technology in every aspect of their lives. Brilliant stuff! When can we have more?”
Dan is currently in discussion with the USA’s National Centre for Women and Information Technology, who are interested in showcasing the product at their 2014 toys and games summit.
You can find out more about The Craft Computer Club and their quest for £35,000 in investment funding on Kickstarter.
About Dan Bridge
Dan Bridge is the founder of educational developer http://inpractice.org which helps universities to manage their student programmes and the creator of Craft Computer Club.
A computer science graduate, Dan has worked as a software developer, both here and in the USA since 1996, managing product development teams. He is a keen advocate of technical education, helping start- ups with technical advice and volunteering time with schools as a STEM (Science,Technology, Engineering and Maths) ambassador and girl’s computing advocate.
As a Dad, Dan understands first-hand how important it is for all children, but particularly girls, to have early, positive experiences with STEM. The Craft Computer was designed with them in mind, using England’s new KS1 and KS2 Computing curriculum as a guide.
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