How to Get Kids Interested in Technology with Activities, Games and More

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Fun apps, shows and toys are available for kids to learn to code. By Angie Chang (Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Women 2.0)

With the success of young programmers like Mark Zuckerberg who started Facebook in his Harvard dorm room, parents are encouraging their kids to learn to code at a younger age.

Now parents can encourage their kids to become future programmers with free iPad apps that teach computational thinking with Cargo-Bot, and teach programming to kids with Daisy the Dinosaur.

Here are some more ways to get your kids interested in STEM.

#1 - Watching Shows

Entrepreneur Magazine's entrepreneur of the year Limor Fried launched Circuit Playground “A is for Ampere” (Episode 1), the first in a fun web series featuring Ampere (named after André-Marie Ampère, the founder of electrodyanamics).

There's a coloring book and adorable Circuit Playground plush toys to match! In fact, electrical engineer Limor Fried founded Adafruit Industries, an e-commerce website that distributes a veritable treasure trove of toys, electronics and ways for children to learn to build programs, apps and more. Check out the possibilities, from the Raspberry Pi (a single-board computer) to littleBits (electronic Legos).

#2 - Reading for STEM

 

Stanford engineer Debbie Sterling made a splash last year on Kickstarter with her hugely successful Goldieblox, the first engineering book/toy for young kids.

Debbie researched and tested construction toys with young girls, realizing that adding a reading element would appeal to young girls more. To combine building spatial and verbal skills for the age 6 and over set, you have GoldieBlox, a book series with building sets.

Female-founded Timbuktu, the iPad magazine for parents and kids, has created a fun illustrated story for scientist Maria Sybilla Merian, noted naturalist, etymologist and botanical illustrator (pictured, right).

Check out the full illustrated story on Timbuktu, or click on the graphic for the full story on the woman scientist.

#3 - Getting Hands-On

The word "hack" and "hackathon" is a bit deceiving. You don't need skills, only curiosity and the will to get hands-on to be a "hacker".

Hack the Future is a one-day event for kids to get hands-on with tech on Saturday, April 20 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. Interested? Get on the mailing list here if you are interested in getting kids together in an all-day techie confab.

"This is the first chance many kids will have to enter the exciting, advancing field of technology. Programming is literacy. To be great, you have to start when you're young, and you have to learn it from a native speaker," writes Joe Mathes, startup engineer and co-creator of Hack the Future. "As professionals on the cutting edge, we wanted to teach what we know straight from the front lines."

Kids should sign up and bring a laptop. The volunteers will provide the rest, as you will see in this video:

Don't forget the fun-for-the-whole-family Maker Faire (May 18-19 in San Francisco and September 21-22 in New York City). The festival serves to "celebrate arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the Do-It-Yourself mindset" - don't miss out!

If you are not in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can find a Hackasaurus event near you or organize your own Summer Code Party!

What to Download, Install and Use for Kids to Learn to Code

Women 2.0 readers: Have more educational resources, shows, books, toys and apps that teach kids STEM concepts? Let us know in the comments below.

Angie Chang is Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Women 2.0, a media company offering content, community and conferences for aspiring and current women innovators in technology. Our mission is to increase the number of female founders of technology startups with inspiration, information and education through our platform. Previously, Angie held roles in product management and web UI design. Angie holds a B.A. in English and Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. Follow her on Twitter at @thisgirlangie.