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AETN distributes PBS KIDS ScratchJr coding kits statewide

Posted 03 Aug 2017

The Arkansas Educational Television Network recently received a grant for $10,000 from PBS KIDS via the Verizon Foundation to provide coding kits to STEM centers throughout the state. The kits are based on curriculum from PBS KIDS ScratchJr.

According to Code.org, computing jobs are the No. 1 source of new wages in the United States and 71 percent of all new jobs in STEM are in computing. Yet, only 40 percent of schools teach computer programming.

“Coding is a fundamental skill, empowering kids to design, create and express themselves through digital technology,' AETN Executive Director Courtney Pledger said. “As is evidenced by Gov. Hutchinson’s Computer Science Initiative, it's crucial that we equip new generations with the ability to think digitally.

“Through opportunities such as this Verizon Foundation grant, AETN is enhancing the learning environment for Arkansas students and helping enable them to succeed in STEM fields.'

A total of 10 coding kits were created with the following items:

Kits were delivered to the following STEM centers:

The kits are available for educators to check out from the STEM centers and use in their classrooms. Additionally, resources connected to the coding kits, including those from PBS KIDS ScratchJR, AETN PBS LearningMedia and ArkansasIDEAS, are available at aetn.org/earlyeducation.

With PBS KIDS ScratchJr, kids can create their own interactive stories and games featuring their favorite characters from 'Wild Kratts,' 'Nature Cat,' 'WordGirl,' 'Peg + Cat,' “Ready Jet Go!' and more. By snapping together colorful programming blocks, children can make characters move, jump, dance and sing.

As young children engage in creative coding with the PBS ScratchJr app, they learn how to create and express themselves with technology, as opposed to passively consuming it. In the process, they are empowered to solve problems, design projects, demonstrate knowledge and develop computational thinking skills that are foundational for later academic success. With PBS KIDS ScratchJr, children don't just learn to code, they code to learn.

The app is available for free on both iPad and Android tablets. It will run on any iPad 2+, including all iPad minis and iPad Airs with iOS 7.0+ installed. It also runs on any Android tablet, 7 inches or larger, that is running Android 4.2+. It does not need web access to run.

The app is the product of the DevTech Research Group at the Eliot­Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University and the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF DRL­1118664), the PBS KIDS ScratchJr tablet app was released in December 2015.

The Arkansas Educational Television Network is Arkansas’s only statewide public media network, which enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers through the distinct channels AETN PBS, AETN Create, AETN PBS KIDS, AETN World and AETN AIRS on SAP. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. Additional information is available at aetn.org. AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro) and KETZ (El Dorado).