Blog

  • 04/13/2018 1:10 PM | Michelle Sieber (Administrator)
    Most youth these days enjoy spending time consuming technology playing video games and watching funny videos. They can also have fun and learn critical skills being creators of technology. 


    If you want to give your students an opportunity to learn to be creators not just consumers, consider sending them to a YouthCode Scratch coding camp this summer. At YouthCode, we are passionate about helping students be creators of technology. 


    During Scratch coding camps, students will learn a block-based coding language called Scratch. Scratch was developed by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) specifically to teach kids coding concepts and help them begin to learn the language of coding.


    Students will learn important computer science concepts as well as create several of their own projects. While planning and creating fun projects, students will also be developing their creativity, strengthening their writing skills, practicing their critical thinking, analyzing solutions to problems and developing important 21st century life skills.


    After camp week is over, your student has the opportunity to continue creating projects in Scratch from home. Rather than just play video games and consume technology this summer, they can CREATE their own technology! They can create electronic greeting cards to keep in touch with their friends, they can create games for others to play, they can write stories, they can create math fact lessons to help them or their siblings remember their math facts. Trust us, they will love being digital creators!
  • 11/29/2017 2:24 PM | Tim Sieber (Administrator)

    Planning is an important part of family life. Families may plan how to spend their time, plan their finances, or plan for a family member’s education or training, Families may even plan to travel or add to their family with another child or a new pet. So with technology being ubiquitous in our world today, why not create a family media use plan?

    The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to help children develop healthy media use habits early in life. In a 2016 article written by the AAP titled “Why to Limit Your Child’s Media Use,” overuse of and poor habits with digital media may place children or teens at risk regarding obesity, lack of sleep, problematic internet use, degraded school performance and increase in risky behaviors.

    Overuse of and poor habits with digital media may place children or teens at risk

    Following are some example considerations for a family media use plan. The AAP also provides a free, online tool to create a customized family media plan for your family.

    • Screen free times - Should screens be put away during meals and what about device curfews before bedtime? Is background television appropriate?
    • Screen free zones - Having rooms where screens are not allowed (e.g., bedrooms and dining rooms) helps maintain healthy boundaries and removes competition between screens and other activities.
    • Choosing appropriate media - What is appropriate for your family based on your desired family values? Studies show government and industry movie ratings have become more lenient and allow more violence and sexually explicit content in films and games. And remember what may be appropriate for one child is not always appropriate for another.
    • Digital citizenship and safety - Consider the same guidelines for both the virtual world and the real world. That means demonstrating manners, respecting others, keeping information secure and knowing friends, activities and locations visited.
    • Be a good role model - Because children are great mimics, parents must follow the plan as well as children. Parents become more available for and connected with children if they are interacting, hugging and playing with them rather than simply staring at a screen.

    Part of YouthCode’s mission is to help move youth from being passive technology consumers to active contributors. As producers and creators, we believe children gain healthier perspectives toward utilization of technology, they become inspired to solve problems and desire to make a difference in the world we live. Coding, specifically, strengthens problem solving and critical thinking skills, develops a deeper level of fluency with the digital world and builds confidence. Included in most YouthCode classes, camps and clubs are discussions with students regarding media choices and digital citizenship. 


  • 09/18/2017 10:05 PM | Tim Sieber (Administrator)

    The word “algorithm” may not seem relevant for use in our every-day vocabulary. However, algorithms are all around us, governing everything from the technology we use to the mundane decisions we make. In most YouthCode activities, we like to start with a basic definition since algorithms are foundational to coding.

    Algorithms are simply detailed, step-by-step instructions for solving a problem or completing a task. Computer scientists write algorithms that instruct computers what to do. The algorithms that computer scientists create are called programs and the code they use to instruct the computer is called a programming language.

    Algorithms are simply detailed, step-by-step instructions for solving a problem or completing a task. Making dinner is an algorithm. Setting the table is an algorithm.

    Now back to algorithms being everywhere and governing our daily life. Making dinner is an algorithm. Setting the table is an algorithm. Turning on and watching your favorite show is an algorithm. Instructions to assemble a trampoline is an algorithm. The method used to solve addition or long division problems is an algorithm. Determining the best route to get to the store is an algorithm. Even your morning routine could be considered an algorithm!

    Algorithmic thinking, or the ability to define clear steps to solve a problem, is crucial in subjects like math and science. Students use algorithms without realizing it all the time--especially in math. To solve a long division problem, for example, students apply an algorithm they’ve learned in order to iterate through the digits of the number they’re dividing. For each digit of the dividend (the number being divided), the child must divide, multiply, and subtract. Algorithmic thinking allows students to break down problems and organize solutions in terms of discrete steps.

    Students can strengthen their algorithmic thinking skills by completing coding activities at online sites such as Code.org, CodeCombat, codeSpark or Kodable. You can also encourage your child to write out their morning routine as an algorithm, or write out the algorithm for an even simpler task such as making a PB&J sandwich or eating cereal. Without knowing it, they’ll be exploring important coding concepts like sequencing (put cereal in bowl and then put in milk), loops (chew each bite of cereal 20 times) and conditionals (if the bowl is empty, stop eating).

    Challenge your child to be as specific with the instructions as possible. Make it fun by having your child tell you his/her instructions and you do EXACTLY what they say. Remember, computers can only follow instructions--they don’t understand intentions or assumptions. If your student doesn’t specify that you need to get a bowl out of the cupboard first, you’ll end up pouring milk on the floor!

    Happy coding!

  • 02/25/2017 2:02 PM | Tim Sieber (Administrator)

    With technology being ubiquitous in our world today, it’s hard not to be concerned with how much screen time a parent should allow a child. This concern usually stems from the perception that most screen time is passive consumption of content that has little or no value. But a simple shift in screen time can result in positive learning experiences that enable youth to interact with the digital world and develop key 21st century life skills.

    A simple shift in screen time can result in positive learning experiences.

    Following are a few reasons how a shift to coding can benefit your child’s screen time.

    • Coding enables children to be active producers of technology rather than passive consumers. As producers and creators of technology, children can be inspired to solve problems and make a difference in the world we live.
    • Coding strengthens problem solving and critical thinking skills as well as learning or reinforcing important mathematical concepts such as patterns, variables, coordinates and the like.
    • Coding develops a deeper level of fluency with the digital world. It is one thing to know how to use technologies but it’s another to understand the science behind them. With coding, kids begin to learn and understand the digital world they inhabit.
    • Coding is the future. Technology is used all around us and in virtually every field. It’s foundational knowledge that all children need.
    • Coding builds confidence. As children create and share stories, games, art and other projects, they immediately realize the result of their ability.
    • Coding is easy to learn and fun. Most children don’t even realize they are learning because…

    Coding apps come in a range of formats designed for different ages and abilities, often incorporating bright colors, cute characters, and elements of game design to appeal to kids. As beginners, kids typically learn by solving problems and puzzles or creating programs by dragging and dropping visual blocks of code (not far removed from building with LEGOs).

    Following are some apps your tech-savvy child may enjoy.

    1. CodeSpark Academy with The Foos – Story-based coding game has kids play through increasingly challenging levels.
    2. Kodable – Solid beginner game that introduces coding concepts and has lots of parent resources.
    3. Scratch Jr. and Scratch – Kids drag and drop blocks of code, snap them together, and watch them work.
    4. Tynker – Let your kids learn coding logic through games as well as creating mods for Minecraft.
    5. Hopscotch – With an appealing interface, boys and girls share creations with an online community while parents guide their producers with access to free curriculum.
    6. Lightbot – By meeting programming goals, kids unlock new levels and learn more advanced concepts.
    7. Code.org – Originators of the Hour of Code movement, kids ages 4+ can access free classes on computer science fundamentals.

    Happy coding!

  • 01/27/2017 3:22 PM | Michelle Sieber (Administrator)

    It's in our human nature to appreciate getting a pat on the back or hearing a job well done for our work. It makes us stand a little taller, smile a little wider and even work a little harder next time. It's really a two-way street. When we tell others we appreciate them and their work, we are boosting their self esteem. But we also benefit knowing we brought a little extra joy to our friend or family member. The same happens when you tell students:

    "Good job on that project!"

    "Very creative! I can see you worked hard."

    "Thanks for helping in class today!" 

    At YouthCode class, we write Shout Outs. Gurus write Shout Outs to students for creative and organized coding, working extra at home or helping in the class. Students write Shout Outs to their peers for coding a cool new game or to gurus thanking them for their help and teaching them something new. What a joy to encourage each other in this way.

    It's a highlight at the end of the class to read the Shout Outs to the students and gurus. Students and gurus leave class standing a little taller, smiling a little wider and ready to work a little harder when they come back to class!

  • 10/07/2016 7:36 AM | Tim Sieber (Administrator)

    What do young people learn as they create interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art with Scratch?

    Creating projects in Scratch helps students develop a deeper level of fluency with digital technology.

    While Scratch is a programming language, it also provides a much broader and richer learning experience for students. It enables youth to interact with the digital world as they learn 21st century life skills critical for success in the future. We understand many students may not pursue careers as professional programmers, but learning to program in Scratch will deliver benefits far beyond coding and into the reaches of other professions.

    Following are five benefits of using Scratch beyond the basic of learning to code:

    • Scratch is an online community. It enables students to explore and experiment in an open learning environment with other Scratch members from all backgrounds, ages, and interests. Members can share their work, get feedback, and learn from each other.
    • Students learn mathematical and computational thinking while creating programs in Scratch. Core computational concepts such as iteration and conditionals are commonplace when creating projects. Students also gain an understanding of important mathematical concepts such as coordinates, variables, patterns and randomness.
    • Scratch is an application that gives students a meaningful and motivating context. When students learn about variables in traditional math classes, they usually feel little personal connection to the concept. But when students learn about variables in the context of Scratch, they quickly apply the concept in very meaningful ways such as controlling the speed of an animation, or keeping track of the score in a game they are creating.
    • As students work on Scratch projects, they innately learn the process of design. Students always start with an idea or goal in mind, they create a project (or prototype), try it out, troubleshoot when things go unexpected, collect feedback from others, and then revise or redesign.
    • Creating projects in Scratch helps students develop a deeper level of fluency with digital technology. Fluency you ask? To be considered fluent in English, Spanish, or any other language, one must learn not only how to read but also to write – that is, how to express oneself with the language. Similarly, to be fluent with digital technology, students must learn not only how to interact with the computer but also to create with it.

    Scratch can boost confidence while enabling students to express themselves more fully and creatively. It helps students develop as logical thinkers and helps them understand the workings of the new technologies they encounter everywhere in their everyday lives.

  • 09/01/2016 11:44 AM | Tim Sieber (Administrator)

    After each class we like to ask the students if they think they learned something. The answer is generally a unanimous, loud “NO!” Especially in the summer … there can’t possibly be any learning going on in the summer, can there?

    Then we remind the students of new terms and concepts like loops, events, conditionals, randomness, and variables. And then those big words like modularization and algorithm. Oh, yeah, they say … I guess we did learn something. The catcher is that they didn’t realize they were learning. They certainly didn’t realize they were doing math, solving problems, writing, creating, keyboarding, sharing, developing their logical and critical thinking, working together and gaining confidence to know they can do challenging things! Nope, they skipped right over all that because they were simply just having fun.

    Not only do kids have fun and learn coding, but they are also exposed to math, solving problems, critical thinking, writing, creating, sharing, and working together, while gaining confidence.

    At YouthCode, we desire to help youth learn coding in a fun way! Actually, it’s better if students don’t realize they are learning because then they just listen, laugh, imagine and become inspired to create. 


  • 08/25/2016 9:51 AM | Michelle Sieber (Administrator)

    After World War II, America’s desire for consumerism began. Americans were no longer just spending money on their daily needs but on their material desires. The late 1940s ushered in an era of increased spending by young adults. Consumption of cars, houses, TVs and Tupperware was on the rise. The American ideal of “more is better” was emerging as the standard way of life. Americans were encouraged to be consumers. 

    Even today, Americans are as strongly encouraged as ever to be consumers. The same applies to our use of technology. It’s a crazy cycle, actually. The more technology we use and consume the more is invented and provided so easily at our finger tips. At YouthCode, we have a passion for technology. It has provided so many advancements to our world in areas such as transportation, manufacturing, medicine and education.

    We are blessed to live in America and to have the opportunities we do. However, we are also strong believers in being active producers and not just passive consumers. We try to practice this is all areas of our lives. We want to share this with the students and families we serve.

    Learning to code is a fun way for students to develop creativity and boost confidence while moving from passive technology consumers to active producers.

    With technologies like mass storage, streaming video, social media, gaming consoles, etc., youth (and adults) can easily become technology consumers. YouTube is a good example of this. There is practical and educational content on YouTube and there is also just fun stuff to watch. It’s easy to spend several hours of a day watching funny YouTube content. We all need a good laugh some days, but we also need to be contributors in our world. Especially kids! YouthCode’s desire is to help kids discover and appreciate a use for technology that is not just on a consumption basis. Students can learn skills such as computer coding to become a producer! Taking YouthCode classes may be the only way a student is introduced to computer science and coding. Students may find they like coding and that it could actually be a career path for them. Students can see that being a producer is just as fun as being a consumer. Well…..maybe it’s even more fun!!

YouthCode is a program of Impacting The Next Generation Project, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
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