Linking coding to real-world tech

Ready, Set, Code! is a new kids’ book from CSIRO that allows the next generation to see how the technology around them works – and how to create it themselves. Co-author Heather Catchpole reports.

Tech roles are growing at an astounding rate, and far fewer women are qualifying for these jobs. Research estimates that today’s children will work in 17 changes in employers across five entirely different career areas. 

And it’s clear that tech will play a role in every industry – the people who work with technology will be business leaders, farmers, artists, and linguists; they will work in retail, for the government, and in their own companies. By encouraging a ‘building’ mindset in our children at an early stage, we can help them to understand that the tech they use every day is something they can understand, create, and debug.

By training our children as technology makers rather than users, we also provide them with the skills to understand and break down problems into smaller parts (a concept known as computational thinking). We allow them to explore their own creativity, and to think about how they can make technology work for them in new and exciting ways.

In Ready, Set, Code! children can work by themselves on simple projects to create games, apps and devices that relate to their own interests – whether that is music, art, gaming, phones, or their community and school environment.

By learning how coding works, kids develop a mindset that will set them up for their future. It will give them a head start in learning Digital Technologies through high school, and, if they’re interested, open them up to fast-growing, high-paying and socially relevant roles working with technology in the future.

Not everyone needs to learn to code. Learning coding early, however, lets kids see that the things around them have their basis in creativity, logic, and language.

Code, or programming, is behind everything we do from making a payment to finding our way to a new restaurant. In the future, new tools will develop from today’s young coders. Helping to create a code literate young community today, will help them to face their own generation’s challenges from climate change, social change and a growing population.

About Ready, Set, Code!

Ready, Set, Code! combines project-based learning in computer science with real-world case studies, facts and the nitty gritty of how things work.

Using fun text, explainers of the cutting-edge tech around us and projects kids can build themselves, it introduces kids to coding and knitting, citizen science projects, transforming digital art, apps that can translate your voice, artificial intelligence, automation, cybersecurity and more, using projects they can build themselves. It’s the essential guide to becoming technology doers not users and accessible to girls and boys with or without adult guidance. 

Kids can learn to code and create using the scratch programming language, micro:bit mini computers, app building tools and the language of the web: html.  The book connects each project to real-world examples that push kids understanding of the ethics, creativity and connections between computer science and the world around them.

Guest post by Heather Catchpole. Ready, Set, Code! is available to purchase from the CSIRO Publishing website or through your local bookstore.