Over the summer holidays, I wanted to see if children could come together, in a short amount of time, to brainstorm ideas and problems they wanted to solve.  I wanted to simulate a real world environment where they had to work together and deliver their digital project at the end of two days.

But, I had so many questions!

Would this work?  How would they react to each other?

Most importantly, would they learn all about digital literacy and have fun?

Well, I had to find out!

Here’s the video with the photos and footage, and a transcript underneath for those who prefer to read!

First, we started off with:

Brainstorming

At first we generated lots of ideas, but all it took was a couple ideas that they believed would make a real impact, and they self-organised into teams to tackle the problem they were passionate about.

This process was valuable in itself, with one boy reflecting that “there are infinite possibilities, but only a few get chosen.”

Branding and Marketing

They loved coming up with names, logos, mission statements.  They loved telling a story about how their product was going to solve an important problem!

Key Learning:

Storytelling is so important in the digital world to connect with an audience, otherwise these fabulous apps and sites will be lost amongst all the internet noise.  

Kids love to tell stories, so we need to encourage developing this skill!

Snowflakes Game

This is a game where they have to sell paper snowflakes to me, and make as much money as they can.  They get really competitive, and this illustrates two simple but important concepts:

  • Always listen and empathise with customer
  • Learn about cashflow and running a business

Key Learning:

Simple, low-barrier games can be engaging and give great context to coding – they teach important business skills around listening to customers, managing resources, and generating profits.  

Design, validate and iterate

When they were getting feedback on the designs of their app, one of the boys realised he missed a key field.  

He was disappointed felt like he made a mistake.  But I was like “No!!! That’s fantastic, you worked out how to improve your design so quickly and it’s easy to change!” which got him excited again.

This is what being a risk taker and having resilience is all about, being ok with not getting it right the first time and persisting until we reach our dreams.

Check out all the amazing research by Angela Duckworth on grit which highlights why this is so important and a predictor of future success.

Key Learning:

There is more to getting something right or wrong.  We must acknowledge, celebrate and nurture when mistakes are made, and guide students to turn it into a step closer towards success.

Coding

Getting local environments setup is always a challenge – in this iPad era not everyone is familiar with creating and navigating folders.

I’ve found that coding is often a challenge at the beginning, especially when they don’t have any background and automatically think it’s really hard thanks to those good ol’ stereotypes about coding.

But once we got past the initial hurdles, their faces absolutely lit up when they worked it out, from simple things like adding a text box, or changing the colour of a button.  

When they reflect, one thing that often comes up is they never realised how much work goes into something like coding a button to go to another page.

Key Learning:

Not only is coding a tremendous skill to learn, but it’s a powerful way for children to change their beliefs about what they’re really capable of.

What did the students and parents think?

The video earlier in this post captures the enthusiasm, but here are some quotes from the students:

“What I found out, was that coding was a lot more difficult but a lot more fun!”

“I will remember this day for a very long time!”

And some from the parents!

“Really incredible seeing what they learnt in two days!”

“Highly recommend this for parents who have kids to learn the skills for the future!”

It was so rewarding and humbling to hear that – I’m truly grateful for the experience.

What’s next?

I couldn’t have been happier with how it all went.  Strangers became friends, everyone supported one another.  They wanted more time to finish their coding before they showcased their work to their parents!

Based on the students feedback, I’m working on a more coding focused workshop that ties in with making it meaningful to the student.

If you’re interested, please do drop me an e-mail at david@gijamie.com.au!