Random Thoughts

How to Cultivate a Young Mind with Technology

giu-vicente-727228-unsplashIt is well known that technology is steadily changing the world around us. I can still remember hearing the dial tone of my computer trying to connect to the Internet and trying to find the perfect song for my Myspace page (yes, I am old). Today much has changed, and instead of trying to shelter my baby on the way from it, I will choose to embrace it and surround him/her with tech at an early age. By the time my child is older, I can only wonder what will be current in the tech world, but from what I can guess, he/she will have a step ahead of the competition thanks for my love for it all. So, I wanted to discuss the ways I plan on teaching my future child the wonders of technology.

At an early age, I will use thought inspiring toys and applications designed to teach problem-solving and creating thinking, the building blocks of coding. Coding is a skill that applies to many aspects of life, not just computers. Toys that have designated, complicated objectives will boost my child’s ability to assess a situation, plan a method of solving it, and learn how to follow through finishing a task no matter the difficulty or length of time it takes to complete. Using tools to teach my child how to combine commands to make toys generate lights, sounds, or movements, produces the effect of wiring a young mind’s brain to see the bigger picture in all situations.

Simple building blocks or products such as LEGO kits achieve this desired effect. My favorite product, the Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar, teaches 3-6-year-olds basic commands and how to connect them in a sequence. The caterpillar is comprised of segments that are all connected via USB ports. Each one of the blocks has a different command that the caterpillar will carry out. By arranging and rearranging the segments, the caterpillar will move in different directions, turn on lights, and emit sounds. Amplifying both coding and fine motor skills, any child who plays with a device such as this will be well on their way to learning and being involved in robotics and programming.

One of my favorite toys as a child was the LEGO Mindstorms Kit. Having been inspired by TV shows like Battle Bots, where custom-built robots fight to the death (so to speak), I began my passion for robotics and engineering. With the kit, I was able to piece together various motors, sensors, wheels, and develop coding for commands, thus providing me with my first Dr. Frankenstein “it’s alive!” experience. Before long, I was taking various household appliances apart and customizing/improving them. This led to my passion for increasing performance in car engines, electrical equipment, and my desire to work in Information Technology.

Any toy or game that is complicated, like a massive LEGO kit, enables a child to experience that awesome feeling of completing a task. There is not a more earth-shattering moment than when achieving something that took many long hours (and thrown items) to finish. Teaching children the value in hard work ensures that they will apply the same ideals throughout their life and career.

One of my fondest memories as a young adult was having the chance to build a 1977 Chevrolet C-10 pickup with my father; this not only strengthened my bond with him but exposed me to the realization that anything can be accomplished with enough sweat (and a few curse words). I plan on building a computer with my son or daughter as soon as they are old enough, starting with cheaper or outdated parts and turning it into something beautiful.

The newer generations have seemed to lose the desire to fix something that is broken, and instead, throw it away and buy another; this leads to lazy personality traits as well as our increasingly damaged and polluted planet. This same aspect will probably be applied to my child’s first car as well. By purchasing a cheaper car that needs work and together, building it into something to be proud of, I can not only save money, (always a good thing) but show that a strong work ethic and a dash of creativity can work magic.

Further along in my kid’s life, while I will obviously be in favor or coding camps or robotics teams at school, I will also understand that he or she might want to go in a different path. If that is the case, I still know that what I have taught them will apply to anything they do in life. Technology is and will reign supreme now and into future generations, and it is up to parents to introduce it to them and cultivate their passions, not just let them sit in front of a computer and play games.

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