Through a grant from PBS and the Verizon Foundation, AETN Early Childhood Education has been proud to partner with Pine Bluff School District elementary schools to hold the PBS KIDS ScratchJr Camp. This camp, which directly addresses the Arkansas Department of Education's goals to integrate computing concepts into the classroom, is revolutionary because it supports critical thought processing with computational thinking and problem solving. Read on to learn exactly what PBS KIDS ScratchJr Pine Bluff Camps are making possible!
Learning to code at any early age gives kids a leg up needed to succeed with computational skills.
ScratchJr is set up as an introductory programming language that helps young kids create their own interactive stories and games. The program is inspired by the popular Scratch programming language (used by millions of young people ages 8 and up). While the program is designed to be developmentally appropriate for younger children - with carefully created features that match their cognitive, personal, social and emotional development - it is also an outstanding stepping stone for computational learning. Coding is a new type of literacy, and ScratchJr teaches kids the "letters and words" they need to begin writing the stories of the future.
Coding supports other foundational academic subjects.
Writing helps you organize your thinking and express your ideas, and the same is true for coding. The "work" kids do as they use ScratchJr helps develop sequencing skills that are foundational for later academic success. Children also use math and language in a meaningful way and motivating context - bringing their favorite PBS KIDS characters to life - which supports the development of early-childhood numeracy and literacy!
Coding goes beyond computers and facts to help children improve problem solving skills.
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 just to passively consuming it. In the process, they are empowered to solve problems, design their own projects and demonstrate knowledge in new ways.
ScratchJr grants make hands-on learning possible.
Within ScratchJr Camps and beyond through educator training, PBS KIDS ScratchJr grants provide the resources needed to make coding possible. Particularly important to this process are 20 new iPads that are being donated to the schools through the PBS KIDS ScratchJr and Verizon Foundation grant. Any child with a tablet or mobile device can download the ScratchJr app and begin coding right away.
PBS KIDS ScratchJr Camps in Pine Bluff have begun by teaching 150-200 children this summer in one-week, half-day camps. Each day, students complete two coding activities - starting with basic knowledge and advancing to higher level programming skills - with active digital and physical activities to illustrate computer coding concepts.
The ScratchJr Camp equips Pine Bluff educators for years to come.
By offering free professional development to educators from the Pine Bluff School District's Southwood, W.T. Cheney, Broadmoor, Belair and Thirty-Fourth elementary schools, the ScratchJr Camps have provided important training that will support students in the years to come. After completing the ScratchJr training, educators better understand what coding is and how to instruct children in this creative process!