FETC 2018 Preview: Tynker Is Coding For Kids and So Much More
There are a lot of apps, toys, robots and platforms designed to help teach children to code. Many offer programs for education that may include a standards aligned curriculum. All of them promise to teach STEM and STEAM and one way or another. Tynker is all of those things, and more.
Tynker is an online platform with rich partnerships designed to help kids with valuable coding skills. They bill themselves as “Everything your child needs to learn computer programming the fun way! Ages 7+”. Tynker goes out of their way to make sure that all of the activities within their platform are fun, and relevant.
“It’s important that kids have fun while they are learning” Tynker co-founder and CEO Krishna Vedati told nibletz.com in an interview. In fact he reiterated the “fun” part, several times in our conversation. It matters because it was his own kids, aged 9 and 7 at the time, that drove Vedati and his co-founders to create Tynker. “We want kids to become makers, using their imaginations” Vedati said.
Tynker has done a great job of securing some strong industry partnerships including one with Microsoft’s Minecraft for Education division. In that partnership, Microsoft integrates the Tynker platform to teach kids to code within Minecraft.
Another such partnership is with Parrot, the industry leader in consumer grade drones. The thought of letting an 8 year old play or program a drone that costs hundreds of dollars may be a little scary. However, Parrot and Tynker have joined forces to create the Parrot Mambo Code, a new mini drone that teaches kids to program and includes a 6 months subscription to Tynker.
With Parrot Mambo Code not only can kids program the drone’s flight path but they can also transport objects, fire the cannon, perform flips and stunts and create dazzling flight paths.
Vedati and his team want to make sure that all kids with even the slightest interest in coding can find something else on the Tynker site that peaks their interest. They also wanted to make sure that Tynker’s offerings touched every bit of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math). The STEM parts are a natural fit. The A can be a bit tricky but just as important.
Kids are using Tynker to program their own drawing apps. Within games they create, kids are getting a taste of design, and user interface, all of these are definitely artistic and creative qualities. Animation is also a big part of Tynker.
At first sight we were a little nervous. Tynker claims to be for ages 7+. More often than not, when we find a product that defines an age range, it’s normally closer to the earlier age range. Tynker makes sure they have activities, and lessons that really run the gamut of ages 7+. The platform also grows with the user.
The best part is that Tynker is perfect for school but can also be used by individual students and their parents. It makes it a great way to learn coding for the millions of home school students out there. When the student signs up for an account, Tynker automatically asks for the parents email information and the parent needs to validate their account and set up their own. This ensures that the parent is involved.
One thing that you can tell from Tynker is that they really care. In our call Vedati was passionate about kids having fun, involving their parents and STEM and STEAM.
One other thing that really struck me in talking with Tynker was that Vedati, who’s been surrounded by technology and software engineers his entire life, made it a point to mention that coding did not equal programming. You don’t have to become a programmer just because you learn to code “you could be a marne biologist” he told us.
More importantly kids learning to code are learning computer skills and problem solving skills and how to solve problems with computers. It’s easy to draw the correlation between Tynker and mathematics, or Tynker and engineering but what about life sciences. Kids that use Tynker could learn ways to simulate growth processes in biology, or analyze historical timelines.
There’s been a real debate over the last two years as to whether coding should be a requirement in public schools, the same way that learning a second language is. Tynker really shows how it all connects together. Students in the graduating class of 2030 are absolutely going to need to know how to code and it’s importance in the real world.
You can check out Tynker at FETC 2018 in Orlando Florida, January 23-26th, booth #513 and sign up for an account today at tynker.com
Check out more of our FETC 2018 coverage here.