Thanks to plastic bricks from Denmark, kids in the United States (and all around the world) are learning to program at age 8. I had the priviledge of coaching a young team of NC kids (9 to 11 years old) to win the NC State Championship in FLL in three years. The Microbots were a dedicated group of kids, none of whom knew how to program when they started FLL. One of these kids quit football to dedicate himself to programming. I tell folks about this program all of the time. If you have a child, aged 8 to 13, and you don’t think that he/she will be a pro-football player (wow – the odds are 1:a gizillion) when he or she grows up, get them on the leading edge of technology (oh and he/she can play with plastic bricks too).
OK – so you have an older kid? There is a corresponding program for high school kids. Microsoft has graciously sponsored Team Awkward Turtle, a high school team from Southwest Wake County in NC (four local high schools and the home schoolers too). Check out this robot! High school kids built and programmed this! I spend a fair amount of my time training the next generation to be great!
I recently showed pictures of the team to a researcher from China. He said that they didn’t have anything like this happening in their high schools. I say this not to knock on China. I am so sure that it is just a matter of time before they are doing this too. My point is, your sons and daughters will be competing with these kids (from all over the world).
I love watching football and look forward to spending my Monday nights watching the stars but I will feel much better about the world at large if more people were doing this on their weekends like I am.