Let’s Talk About Our Latino Kids in STEM Programs – Resources and Reasons
With lack of diversity in today’s technology industry, it’s even more important to ensure Latino, African-American and girls have access to STEM programs. As Latinos increase in population, the importance of Latino programmers, makers, and coders increases as well.
SXSW (South by Southwest) is one of the biggest interactive conferences and it’s held in Austin, TX in March every year. This year, I’ll be there again for the LATIN@S IN TECH one-day conference. in Austin, TX on March 12th. It is a gathering for Latin@ leaders throughout tech, including entrepreneurs, investors, media creators and social change workers. Queridos, if you are interested in learning more about Latinos in Technology, I invite you to attend the 2nd Annual Latin@s in Tech one-day conference at SXSW 2015 on March 12th. Last year’s was so informative and this year, I hope to pick up even more resources to help parents learn more about STEM programs for their kids.
I’m doing my part to share about Latinos in the technology industry on this blog and on social media. But I can do more. One of my parenting goals is raise a
bi-lingual multi-lingual boys and one of those languages must be coding. In order to get them to learn to code and create, I must have them involved in STEM programs early on.
What are STEM programs? They are learning programs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Why should we get our kids in STEM programs? It’s not in hopes that they will become scientists or engineers (which would be great). It may even be more exciting if they became computer programmers since it is speculated that by the year 2020, the U.S. will have an extreme demand for computer programmers but not enough computer science graduates. If we have hope for our kids’ futures, we must begin by ensuring our kids will have the skills needed for future jobs.
It is important to involve your kids in STEM programs because it is in these programs – mostly hands-on learning – that kids begin to understand how things work. Even our future writers, lawyers, doctors, etc. need to learn the basic workings of technology. Plus, in STEM programs, students learn how to build community by working with other, solve problems and create, create, create.
Our kids already LOVE technology – but mostly playing with it and not enough creating it. STEM programs are the beginning of creating technology.
So, as a parent, do you want to introduce them to STEM programs but don’t know how? Below are a few places to get started!
Help Your Kids Learn to Code – Two Free Online Courses
Hour of Code on Code.org Be sure to watch the inspiring video about coding! Code.org has various courses for almost any level, age, grade to begin to learn how to code. IMPORTANT TO NOTE: If your child’s school is not currently offering a computer science curriculum, Code.org has resources to help you advocate for one.
Scratch – Free online coding courses for ages 8 – 16. Younger students can participate but may need a parent to help out. It’s not just courses, though. It’s also a community. (This is where my son started earlier this year at a summer camp and now we do this at home.)
Help Your Kids Build and Create with DIY Robotics Kits
LittleBits – Create circuits with magnets to invent, well, almost anything! On this site, you can shop for your circuits as well as browse for creations that have already been completed. You will be amazed at what people can invent with this!
Lego Robotics – Through the Lego Education site, you can purchase Lego Robotics curriculum and projects online. There is also a yearly competition FIRST Robotics in which you could even compete. Anyone – student, parent, community member – can start a team according to their website.
Kano.me – Build your own computer! Everything you need to build and code your own computer comes to you in a box. You do the rest.
Minecraft – The object is to construct, not to tear down. It’s a video game, but it can also be classified as a building toy. This ever-popular game teaches kids much more than playing a game.
The above links are to online resources to get started. If you are in San Antonio, you may want to check out SASTEMIC. SASTEMIC is a San Antonio-based 501c3 advocacy group and connectory for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). We are “the go-to organization for STEM in San Antonio.” They are a solid resource of mine.
SASTEMIC GeekBus – Their next camp is Spring Break Robotics Camp for grades 4 -8, March 11 – 14, 2015 at Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. Check back on their website for future camps and events like STEM Week and SA Code Jam.
We currently have my son enrolled in a LEGO Robotics class. However, it’s not enough for me to just have him enrolled. Supporting other parents to find the resources they need is important for me, too. I’ll be sharing more about other STEM resources and programs under the “Education” tab. Together, we can raise the NextGen of Coders!