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Teaching Young People the Language of the Future

Amanda Antorino

Project Manager and EPAM e-Kids volunteer, EPAM

“Young people today have lots of experience interacting with new technologies, but a lot less so of creating (or) expressing themselves with new technologies. It's almost as if they can read but not write,” says Mitchel Resnick, Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab, Chair of the Scratch Foundation and “godfather” of Scratch.

Scratch, the bedrock to EPAM e-Kids, is a simple, drag-and-drop coding platform with an approachable interface and educational support within an online community. Now, with over two years of work under our belts and over 9,000 volunteer hours globally, we find Mitch’s quote to be true with every e-Kids class we teach. Almost every young person can operate computers and computer programs with ease, sometimes even better than adults, but very few understand how they work. Today’s kids just haven’t been exposed to educational programs that make this information interesting and accessible. 

Using Scratch, EPAM e-Kids set out to change that. We look to change the way these students view the technology that saturates their everyday lives by instituting creative and collaborative classroom environments that break down barriers and provide room for students to explore and create.

As we approached the end of our second e-Kids season in Philadelphia, we asked the students to create a birthday card for Scratch’s 10th birthday. Here is what the fifth graders from John H. Webster Elementary School shared:

“What I liked about this program is that when you’re working, you’re also having fun and creating new things that are inspiring.”

“Coding is interesting and you learn new things!”

“What I like about Scratch is that it helps kids achieve many new and different things with coding. It’s also is a safe website that kids can go on and learn to code!”

“I like that I can create my own games and fun projects.”

“I like Scratch because I love computers!”

After reflecting back on this e-Kids season, it is truly inspiring to hear such excitement from these students who we’ve seen grow tremendously throughout this year. Through EPAM e-Kids, we try to instill the mindset that computer science is fun, rewarding, creative, but also essential to the future.

As educators, we are still in the habit of asking students, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I imagine now we will have a few students that will say they want to be computer scientists – just like us.

EPAM will host a free Scratch Conference in Budapest, Hungary from August 24-25, 2017. We look forward to collaborating and connecting with hundreds of our peers in the education and technology domains to get hands-on experience with new educator tools and elements of Scratch programming.

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