Last October, Tim Cook made a bold statement during a visit to France: “If I were a French student and I were 10 years old, I think it would be more important for me to learn coding than English.”
When Apple’s CEO believes in the power of programming at an early age, we should stop and consider the benefits. Because our kids who were born after the millennium are now facing an entirely different set of challenges than their parents ever did: How to balance their online and offline presence? How to assess risks to their privacy? Or how to create digital apps to solve real world problems?
TechSpark Academy offers coding workshops in Switzerland
Several years ago, Marta Gehring launched TechSpark Academy in Switzerland after her daughter had attended a coding camp in the US. Initially based in the French speaking part, TechSpark Academy quickly became a popular way for teens to spending their spring, fall or winter break.
Marta’s idea is ingenious: She would recruit top-notch student instructors from the nearby EPFL University. Thanks to the fun spark of these young instructors, they appear approachable to the kids and the experience feels nowhere like attending a class in school.
I recently had the opportunity to peek inside a classroom at the TechSpark Academy branch in Zürich.
Kate Mckee, the director for Zürich and Zug, has introduced Marta’s concept to the German speaking part of Switzerland. Kate found a convenient location right in Zürich’s financial quarter, allowing parents to commute with their offspring while they attend a coding camp during a school break.
Technology literacy in a complex world
During my visit, about ten kids between the ages of nine and twelve years are engaged in a pop quiz. The class room is full of energy as one of the ETH instructors tests their technology know-how. The spoken language here is English, which seems to be no problem even for those kids from local Swiss households. They are obviously having fun, so I decide to have a look at the second class room down the hall.
Here, some of the older kids are busy hacking a wireless router:
I am surprised to see whiteboards covered in programming code and I am told that they have already created their own game in Python. The latter is an advanced programming language taught at all major universities. In contrast, the younger group next door is introduced to coding using Scratch, a programming language designed by MIT for children aged seven to eleven.
TechSpark Academy workshops are designed to be hands on, and there are frequent breaks to eat some healthy snacks or play a game.
Kate underlines the importance of learning a programming language: “Coding is already happening. It is not the language of the future, it is now. More and more families embrace this digital shift by proactively sending their kids to a coding camp.”
The technology literacy they are taught is truly invaluable, helping millennials to navigate an ever complex world. In order to build cyber awareness and technology confidence at an early age, TechSpark Academy have recently launched a special class on Hacking and Defence.
TechSpark Academy Courses 2018
Allow your kids to make the most of their school breaks and sign them up for a coding camp! All courses are taught by EPFL or ETH student instructors at camps throughout Switzerland, including Geneva, Lausanne, Zürich and Zug. And finally, thanks to a partnership with the international schools of Zug and Luzern, there will be extra holiday camps during Easter break and during summer.
Choose from the following courses. A minimum of four participants are required, so recruit your friends and take advantage of the “bring your friend or sibling” discount:
- Building your own game with Python (age 12+)
- Adventures in coding with Scratch (for age 9-12)
- Cyber-awareness: Hacking and Defence (age 12+)
- Mobile app programming with Swift
- Adventures in robotics with Arduino
- Digital photography and film with Adobe
- 3D printing with Solidworks
(This article is sponsored by TechSpark Academy)