5 free computer science resources to keep kids engaged at home

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This year found parents and children in a situation that we have never seen the likes of before, with state mandated lockdowns forcing schools all over the globe to shut down for months on end.  

This has not been easy for parents, who have suddenly become makeshift teachers as well as mothers and fathers, and with little opportunity to get out of the house, kids are now spending a lot more of their time looking at screens. In normal circumstances, this is something that is usually strongly discouraged, but with social interaction and time outdoors limited, there is a narrower scope when it comes to activities for children.

As a result, parents have largely had to accept that screens are going to play a major role in their daily lives for now. However, while increased screen time is unavoidable, we can at least try to encourage kids to use these screens productively. One of the many consequences of COVID-19 is that it has forced education to move online, and while this can never replace face-to-face teaching, there is a whole host of excellent resources available to help parents keep children engaged in their education.

Here at ESET, we are always looking to encourage the next generation of students to consider a career in cybersecurity; with cyber threats constantly on the rise and cybercrime set to cost the world US$6 trillion annually by 2021, cybersecurity professionals are in high demand. It is vital to cut the skills gap going forward, and in order to do that we need to inspire a new generation of young people to get educated in the basics of cybersecurity.

When it comes to starting out in this sector, subjects such as information technology and computer science are a great place to begin, giving students the technical and analytical skills required for successful careers in cybersecurity. These fields of study are becoming more and more important as the world becomes increasingly digitized, so why not make the most of this time to teach your children more about the technology that they are spending so much of their time using?

Fortunately, the internet is packed with fantastic resources that children of all ages can use to learn more about computer science and coding. Here are a few free resources that parents can make use of to turn screen time into learning time:

 1. STEM Learning

STEM Learning is a UK education platform that provides support for young people looking to learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The site features a live chat offering support from subject experts and boasts hundreds of resources that can be sorted by topic and age. Check out their curated computing courses here.

2. TEDEd

While you may know TED for its lectures and conferences, TEDEd is the platform’s youth and education initiative, aiming to showcase teachers’ and students’ ideas around the world. With a global network of over 250,000 teachers, and a vast library of original animated videos, from explanations of how self-driving cars “see” to talks from 12-year app developers, TEDEd is a great source of engaging content.

 3. BBC Bitesize

BBC Bitesize, the British broadcaster’s online study support resource, has been running for over 20 years. With materials spanning practically every school topic, the website has computing resources for all age groups. They also recently launched Bitesize Daily, an extended education program that uploads new lessons every day with help from celebrity teachers such as David Attenborough.

4. Scratch

Scratch, a project run by the MIT Media Lab, lets kids program their own interactive stories, games and animations, and share these creations with the rest of the online community.

It helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically and work collaboratively – all essential skills for life in the 21st century.

    5. Code.org

Code.org is dedicated to expanding access to computer science, aiming to make computer learning as widespread as biology, chemistry or algebra. Supported by Facebook, Google and Microsoft, the site contains full courses for kids of various ages, as well as their “Hour of Code” program, providing fun, animated one-hour tutorials.


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