At a time when coding careers continue to flourish – despite the Covid19 pandemic and its adverse effect on the world economy – it is not surprising to see kids learning programming at an early age. And the coding language of Python has won what can only be described as a growing following over the years. Not just among grownups but kids too.
So what is Python and why should kids learn it? Let’s start by taking a quick look at this programming language. A high-level general-purpose programming language, Python is being hailed today as the best coding language for beginners, including kids and teens.
Below are the top reasons why kids should learn Python:
- Ease of Learning: Boasting a syntax that is very similar to that of English, Python is easy to learn, especially when compared to most other programming languages. In Python, one can write concepts in fewer lines of code, making it a very useful and fast choice for tasks, especially for beginners, including kids. Moreover, Python affords a great deal of flexibility as a coding language which means kids can experiment easily and more often.
- Soaring Popularity: Python is one of the most popular programming languages in the world now. In fact, it is said to have secured the second place in last year’s ranking of programming language popularity as published by the analyst firm Red Monk. This has definitely added to its appeal making more kids want to learn Python.
- Good Documentation, Community Support and a Big Network of Python Libraries: There is no dearth of guides and video tutorials for those working with Python. The community support makes it very easy for kids to learn computer science with Python. Plus, Python has several libraries that help minimise one’s time and effort during development. For instance, Matplotlib is used for plotting charts and graphs; SciPy for engineering applications, science, and mathematics; Beautiful Soup for HTML parsing and XML and NumPy for scientific computing.
- Highly Versatile, driving up its Cross-Industry Appeal: Python is being used in different types of environments such as mobile applications, desktop applications, web development, hardware programming, and many more. This makes it a highly versatile programming language. Today, it is widely used in Big Data Analytics, Internet of Things (IOT), Full Stack Web Development, Computer Vision, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.
- Enjoys the Support of Leading Colleges and the Corporate Sector: Typically the first language taught in the computer science curriculum, Python has the backing from most of the top computer science college programs. It also enjoys support from Facebook, Amazon Web Services and Google. Thanks to the above reasons, more kids are learning Python today than ever before. It also helps that there is no shortage of learning resources today – both online and offline. There are many free learning resources one can find today but if you are looking for greater accountability, it is recommended to join a coding class. A leading coding program for kids and teens, YoungWonks provides students individual attention in 1:1 live lessons, fostering an environment where kids feel free to explore their creativity by experimenting and making new programs, apps, websites, games, robots and electronic devices. Not surprisingly, its students have even won first prizes at the RoboRave International 2018, RoboRave California 2018 and RoboRave US National 2017, making it a good choice for a kid looking to learn coding. Students even get a free trial to test the quality of lessons before they join the program.
–thank you to Ask a Tech Teacher contributor for this article (more…)
A logical step for many teachers is to progress from teaching High School to College. But that is more complicated than it sounds. Here’s an good article from an Ask a Tech Teacher contributor on what you should know to make that a successful endeavor:
What to Know Before Moving From High School Teacher to College Professor
Teaching is one of the most fulfilling, albeit challenging, jobs you can do. No matter the location or level, there will be immense feelings of pride, moments of anguish and many tired nights and weekends.
For those who get started as a high school teacher, there comes a time when they think about moving on to teaching at the college level. If you have interest in becoming a college professor, the following questions will help you understand all the benefits, differences, challenges and steps to changing your career path.
High School or College: Which Has a Higher Earning Potential?
As most educators know, there is a salary bump at the college level. The median pay for post-secondary (college) teachers in 2020 was $80,790, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This is well above the $62,870 median annual salary for high school teachers. In general, education isn’t the field you enter to get rich, but that extra income can be a major incentive to make the transition.
Are There Fewer Jobs Available for College Professors?
Though it may be surprising, there are actually more college professors in the United States than high school teachers. In 2020, there were 1.33 million post-secondary teachers compared to less than 1.05 million high school teachers, according to BLS. The field is also expanding faster in higher education, which BLS forecasts will add another 121,500 workers by 2029, compared to just 40,200 more in high school.
What Are the Requirements to Teach in College?
While the majority of tenure positions at four-year universities will require a doctoral degree — plus at least seven years teaching in the field for an institution — there are a range of opportunities available with a master’s degree as well. Community college teachers, for example, typically only ask for a master’s, and even well-known schools hire professors in some specialities, including the arts, without a Ph.D.
There’s still time this school year to help high school students learn the skills they’ll require to thrive in Higher Education. Here are basics you don’t want them to graduate without–from one of our Ask a Tech Teacher contributors:
4 Ways to Help High School Students Develop the IT Skills They’ll Need for Higher Education
Being able to use technology to its fullest is vital for students as they move from high school into higher education, yet it is not enough to assume that they will pick these skills up on their own.
Teachers can be proactive in their approach to fostering IT abilities in students, and here are just a few sensible strategies that will make this easier to achieve.
Leverage remote learning tools
Remote learning has become a reality for millions of people recently, and a study of higher education IT found that 70% of universities are planning to take a hybrid approach to teaching in the coming year. This means that students need to be familiar with the tools and techniques that are involved in this scenario, so that they do not fall behind their better-prepared peers.
That is not to say that teachers should simply pile in every remote learning tool and app available to them just for the sake of it; think about which tools and resources are actually appropriate for the subject in question, and use these in a way that makes a positive impact to the students’ experience. This will avoid making the process of remote learning overwhelming, while still giving them an understanding of what solutions will be part of their higher education ecosystem going forward.
This is such an important topic! Often kids–and parents–see tech as complicated, daunting, all-math-and-science. Kids think they’re not ‘smart’ enough and maybe, parents think that too! Here are great suggestions for encouraging young participation in a field that is probably the top choice for jobs:
4 Ways to Inspire Kids to Pursue a Degree In Information Technology
In this tech-centric day and age, the demand for science, technology, math, and engineering skills has spiked significantly, and it only seems to increase. This is evident in how an increasing number of schools offer information technology degrees. There isn’t a single day that we don’t interact with technology. However, while the vast majority of people understand how to use technology, far too few want to understand how technology works.
It’s intimidating to delve into the finer details on the functionality of tech. Most people know how to use a social media platform, but show no interest in understanding the coding behind it. How then, can we spark such an interest in our children?
Start With Toys
Playtime eventually evolves into work time, and toys have a powerful influence on a child’s interests, thinking, behavior, and creative expression. Educational toy manufacturers such as Sphero, Kiwi Co., and Sparkfun create toys that help children learn about coding, circuitry, engineering, and many other STEM fields.
Celebrate With Tech
Introduce your child into the culture of science by holding their next birthday at a science center or a discovery museum. Sure, many schools organize field trips to these places, but if you want your child to gain a genuine interest in these things, you need to try to introduce it on a more personal level. It’s much easier to pique a child’s interest when an element of fun is introduced.
As High School seniors prepare to graduate, many will choose something about computers for their job or continued studies. There’s no greater excitement than being part of the team that puts a face on the internet with web design. Here’s a great overview of that field from a school that prepares students for this future job:
How do I become a web designer?
Many of our older students are now considering what careers they wish to pursue. Some will decide to work locally while some will either choose to study locally or abroad. With information technology playing an integral role in all our lives and with even the smallest of businesses having a website, we have seen an increasing trend in the number of students who wish to become web designers. Of course, this has become a complex field with lots of competition, even when qualified.
As a international school in Bangkok, we always encourage pupils to follow their dream careers and seek employment in something that they enjoy. As part of our role as educators, we must prepare students for what to expect in the world of work. In particular, our HS students often need guidance about how to begin their journey, and our careers team are always available to make suggestions and offer help as required. In this article, we will look at what is necessary to become a web designer upon leaving school.
What is the role of a web designer?
Web designers conduct work on various types of website, either for themselves, the company that they work for or for their own clients. It can cover a broad range of topics from relatively simple blogger sites to complicated e-commerce websites with multiple landing pages and sometimes hundreds of thousands of products. However, the role also involves other aspects, aside from the technical points, and this can often go overlooked.
A web designer will need to meet clients to establish what they require for their site. It will include gaining an insight into their business, their objectives and their client base. From here, it is the designer’s job to formulate a plan, showing the structure of the website, including choosing text, background and colour schemes. In some cases, the web designer may be asked for their advice regarding branding and the inclusion of multimedia.
After the site has been completed, the web designer will conduct thorough testing and once complete, upload the site to a server, from where it will be available to the public. Some clients may ask the web designer to work with them on an ongoing basis, managing the site, and uploading fresh content.
As High School seniors prepare to graduate, many will choose something about computers for their job or continued studies. Here’s a great overview from an Ask a Tech Teacher contributor of what one of those fields–working with the powerful algorithms that drive search and research–is about:
What are search engine algorithms?
For many students who are approaching school leaving age, they will already have decided the career path which they wish to take. Not surprisingly, given the role it plays in our everyday lives, many choose to pursue a career in IT. Of course, this is an incredibly broad topic. Still, in this article, we will focus predominantly on aspects relating to websites, moreover, how they can help to achieve business goals and other objectives.
As an international school in Hong Kong, we do all we can to prepare our students for going out into the workplace. Our various IT classes cover a wide range of topics with web development, e-commerce and SEO all being covered to some degree. Indeed, it is three areas, which are all interlinked, where most students wish to work, understanding the professional opportunities that are likely to present themselves. However, for a website to fulfil its potential, it must satisfy the needs of search engine algorithms.
What is an algorithm?
Algorithms are not a new phenomenon and have been used as a part of mathematics for thousands of years. They are often mistaken for being a formula but are in actual fact a series of different formulas or ingredients. They are often likened to preparing a meal for a large group. However, the meals may essentially be the same; different people like it to be cooked differently. Some people might want their meat cooked rare while others like it well done, some like salt, some like pepper, and so on. The algorithm means that a different formula is required for each person.
There is a lot of conversation about college vs. career–the pros and cons of each weighed against the needs of individual students. Here’s a thoughtful article from Peter MacCallister, an Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, on why college is a good idea even when considering a career in tech:
Technology is one of the areas where self-education, or autodidacticism, can bring outstanding results and allow an individual to achieve professional success without holding official certifications to prove his knowledge and skills. Self-taught people study better without guidance and prefer to have full control over what, when and how they study. Why would such a person interested in a tech career spend thousands of dollars to go to college instead of learning at home? The reasons are plenty so let’s delve deeper into this issue.
A Prestigious College is a Playground for Networking
Getting into a highly-ranked college or university can give your career an incredible impetus if only for the fact that you’ll be surrounded by intelligent and accomplished people with similar interests. Colleges offer countless possibilities for networking both with professors who are experts in your field and with fellow students.
Imagine having attended classes with Elon Musk or Warren Buffet as a fellow student at an elite institution like the University of Pennsylvania. Good colleges and universities are filled with incredibly driven and passionate students from whom you can learn a lot and with whom you might collaborate professionally one day. Having many bright minds in one spot increases your chances of meeting future visionaries in your field.
Colleges Have an Extensive Network of Resources
At first glance, it seems that programmers, software developers and other tech professionals need little more than a computer with an Internet connection to develop their skills. However, no matter how motivated and passionate you are, there is a cap to self-education. A point comes when you need serious output from the external world to continue to grow at the same rate.
Libraries, laboratories, expensive software licenses, access to reputable academic journals and career assistance – all these represent only a part of the wide range of resources that a good university provides to students so they can excel in their field. Hunching over your computer for weeks and months to find a solution to a problem that your peers have solved long ago is counterintuitive. Meanwhile, having access to valuable resources allows you to keep in touch with the latest developments in the sector and make sure you stay on track.
Before I get into how edtech enhances social studies lessons, let’s ask a foundational question: What the heck is Social Studies? If you don’t teach in the United States, this might be a term you aren’t familiar with. According to Wikipedia:
“In the United States education system, social studies is the integrated study of multiple fields of social science and the humanities, including history, geography, and political science.”
Merriam Webster offers this definition:
“…the study of social relationships and the functioning of society, usually made up of courses in history, government, economics, civics, sociology, geography, and anthropology”
At primary levels, this includes history, science, and language arts. In MS and HS, it expands to cover science, mathematics, civics, economics, and maybe geography. According to Brookings, roughly nine percent of educators consider themselves social studies teachers. None arrived with a major in social studies though some did have a “Social Studies Teacher Education” degree. About 40 percent majored in history, political science, economics, or sociology with the rest in varied other degrees.
The goal of social studies is to promote civic competence — the knowledge required to be active and engaged participants in public life and the community. In the past decade, technology has become the disruptive tool of choice among teachers to make what traditionally is a droll collection of subjects energizing and inspiring.
Here are five ways edtech can kick up your social studies program:
In my high school teacher forums, as part of the discussion on preparing kids for college and career, we talk a lot about the huge shortfall in applicants for a growing list of tech jobs. Despite robust pay, excellent work conditions, and the value they place on creativity, jobs sit open. How do we get kids excited about careers that traditionally sound boring and math-oriented? Websites like Code.org have a great approach to making coding accessible to all kids but still, too few students think they are smart enough to do these jobs.
Time to reveal a secret I learned over the years. When I let students play Minecraft, Scratch, or a handful of other top-notch games, they eagerly — even happily — complete the programming and coding parts without ever considering it “math” or “smart”. I’ve seen them spend hours building a virtual world exactly the way they want it without getting bored or distracted.
By High School, the choice between college and career is foremost with life-changing consequences based on what the student decides. Often the choice depends upon the student’s goals. This topic could fill volumes but today, I want to focus on the job of building apps. App Developer is listed as number three on ThinkAdvisor’s list of the best jobs of the future, with a projected growth of 57% through 2020 (according to the BLS). There aren’t a lot of jobs where people can make money doing what they love.
Aside from future jobs, there are great reasons why even kids who want to become doctors or lawyers (or farmers) would benefit from learning the lesson of app building:
- Apps teach real-world skills like design, marketing, video production, project management, presentation skills, and special media use.
- The app building process requires creativity, innovation, critical thinking, and problem-solving — all fundamental to success in lots of jobs.
- Good app developers are collaborators, willing to work with others to ensure the app is accomplished on time and according to specs.
- Good app developers are decision makers, not afraid to be risk-takers in building something no one has done before.
As I dug into the background of “app building” to prepare this article, I found that it doesn’t just refer to the little buttons you click to see about today’s weather or add numbers or find your friends (well, find their phones). App developers are the first ones who try out the latest trendy devices. Wouldn’t you love to experiment with 5G on your smartphone or play with Samsung’s foldable phone? Or how about wearable devices like the embedded chips intended to replace employee cards? An app developer used all of these before they ever went on sale. App developers can work for software companies, retailers, in healthcare, in the travel industry, for the entertainment industry, or in financial services. CNN Money has called “app developer” the best job in America.
Once you’ve explained to students what it really means to be on the cutting edge of the high-tech world, let them try one (or more) of these six great app creation tools:
- App Inventor (from MIT)
- Code HS (an app building curriculum)
- Glide (how to create apps from spreadsheets)
- MAD-learn (a beginning to end app development program for K-12)
- Thunkable (a curriculum)
- TinyTap (geared for teachers but fine for the right student group)
Technology is a natural education fit in everything from math to Spanish to literacy. The one corner of K-12 learning that is not so obvious is PE — Physical Education. In that class, we think of physical stuff — not digital — like running and exercising.
But kids love technology’s apps and software. Is there a way to use these to encourage physical fitness? After all, the tie-in between physical conditioning and learning is well-accepted. Here’s what the NY Times reports:
Better fitness proved to be linked to significantly higher achievement scores — a 2013 study reported in PubMed.org.
But, how can teachers use the technology students love to encourage physical education? Here are my favorite websites and apps:
This is a stunningly visual app that takes students right into the human body via virtual reality. Viewers travel down the gastrointestinal tract, the small intestine, the circulatory system, and three other systems. With 360-degree navigation, it is fully interactive, including even tags for important parts. Students can stop and observe while exploring the hotspots. Watch this video—you really won’t believe it.