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eKids Volunteers: 10+ Years of Teaching Coding to Help Kids Develop Skills for the Future (Pt. 3)

Interview

The demand for people with coding skills is growing. In response to this increasingly critical and global need, we’ve been building a community that encourages children to explore software engineering through the Scratch platform. The eKids program wouldn’t be what it is today without our 765+ volunteers spanning 15 countries and spending 32,000+ hours helping local children learn to code, preparing them for the future predominantly driven by technology.

In our previous eKids Volunteers interview segment, we spoke with EPAMers from Ukraine and Belarus about their experience teaching EPAM eKids. Here’s another segment from some volunteers in India and China:

Why did you decide to volunteer for EPAM eKids?

Rajeswara Turlapati (India): Computers are one of the easiest ways to get quality education, as there are many resources available on the internet. Such a wide variety of visual and audio materials enhances children’s understanding of theoretical concepts. My motivation for sharing my knowledge with children and schoolteachers is so they start using the resources effectively to enrich their knowledge of programming.  

Venu Kandagatla (India): It’s exciting to teach kids about the technology we use every day and it makes me happy to help prepare kids for their future.

Aleksandra Kozlowska (China): My manager asked me to join this program. I decided to because I know how much my kids enjoyed taking robotics classes in Poland and I wanted to be part of such an exciting learning experience.

Guang Yang (China): I love to share knowledge, especially with children. Scratch is a great platform to inspire kids who want to make software or animations by coding.

Can you tell me what the eKids workshops are like?

Rajeswara Turlapati (India): We continuously teach kids programming concepts and a variety of techniques, such as HTML5, PHP and JavaScript, to use in their day-to-day activities. Periodically, students demonstrate what they’ve learned in Scratch or HTML programming and the teachers monitor their progress.

Venu Kandagatla (India): The eKids workshops are very interactive. The ultimate goal is to get the right tools into our local schools and provide trainers who can help inspire kids to learn programming.

Aleksandra Kozlowska (China): The eKids workshops trigger kids’ creativity and provide lessons on how programming works. It is not just a lecture – it is a highly interactive and collaborative experience.

Guang Yang (China): The workshops offer a warm and welcoming environment for students to learn programming skills by creating games.

How easy is it for people with non-tech backgrounds to learn the Scratch program?

Rajeswara Turlapati (India): It’s as easy as opening an application and moving the mouse to perform on-screen instructions.

Venu Kandagatla (India): With some documentation and instruction, even non-technical people can learn.

Aleksandra Kozlowska (China): Since the Scratch platform is so user-friendly, you don’t need any special tech skills and knowledge to learn it. If kids can do it, you can do it too. The only question is how creative you can be.

Guang Yang (China): It is quite easy for people without tech backgrounds to learn the Scratch program, as it’s straightforward and easy to handle. With a volunteer’s help, anyone can create interesting projects.

Why is it so important for kids to learn about technology like coding at such a young age and how does Scratch fit in to this initiative?

Rajeswara Turlapati (India): Computers are becoming a huge part of daily life. If children can understand how a computer works at young age, it will create a strong foundation for writing more advanced programs. Scratch appeals to children because it contains a toolkit to create interactive stories, animations and more. What’s really great about Scratch is that the programs can be shared in an online community to work collaboratively with others.  

Venu Kandagatla (India): It’s important for kids to understand technology for their future and they must be able to at least grasp the concepts. The program is very user-friendly and is a great introduction to these concepts.

Aleksandra Kozlowska (China): The world we live in is quickly developing and technology is constantly evolving, so traditional teaching methods are not working anymore. It’s not only about educating and developing future programmers to fill the career gap in the market, it’s also about educating young people so they are able to use technology in a smart, more informed way. Kids have a lot of experience with modern technologies, but they should also know how to create these technologies and use them wisely. Digital literacy is a new competency that is now as important as reading or writing. Scratch is fun and it is easy to get started. It gets more challenging after time, but this is yet another factor that makes it such a practical tool for teaching.

Guang Yang (China): This program isn’t just for teaching kids something useful, it actually opens a door for them to see how software is made and how these skills impact our everyday lives. It also teaches kids logical thinking and the basics of IT. The program’s UI design is amiable and the content is quite fun, so it isn’t difficult for kids to learn and they don’t get bored when learning.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges that kids and educators face today in a technology-driven world?

Rajeswara Turlapati (India): The gap between theory and practice. Children tend to forget unless they experience activities in a real-life scenario.

Venu Kandagatla (India): I would say that the biggest challenges include infrastructure to host the technology and schools not having the right resources.

Aleksandra Kozlowska (China): It’s difficult to convince leaders, policymakers and educators that our educational system should be adapted to the modern world. What was working 20 years ago will not work nowadays. I would also like to see more girls participate in the eKids program in Shenzhen. It is important to increase awareness among parents that coding and robotics are not just for boys.

Guang Yang (China): Technology is a double-edged sword – kids can learn with it as well as play with it. Self-discipline is quite important for both kids and educators to have a more impactful lesson.

What are some of your favorite moments as an eKids volunteer and what is the most impressive thing you’ve seen the students accomplish?

Rajeswara Turlapati (India): I enjoy how the children are very energetic and like to explore new things and experiment with their projects.

Venu Kandagatla (India): The projects prepared by the kids are very good. I see that some of the students are very enthusiastic about creating different things using Scratch.

Aleksandra Kozlowska (China): It’s rewarding to see the kids presenting the results of their work and watch them create simple but very different games in a short amount of time.

Guang Yang (China): My favorite moments are when children understand what you’re teaching and have mastered the knowledge. The most impressive thing I’ve seen from a project perspective is the animation of a flying bird that was created independently by a student.

If you’re looking for more insights from our eKids volunteers, our final installment of this series is coming soon!

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