Recent brain research has verified the importance of cognitive and social development in a child’s early years. We have a need for programs that incorporate Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP) that foster cognitive and social development using learning strategies to embrace and engage students through consistent, holistic and nurturing activities that also integrate exploratory and interactive learning across the curriculum. Additionally, learning must be fun and emulate the technology skills used in society to be effective.
Today, the question that educators ask is no longer about whether and to what extent technology should be used with young children in the classroom, but rather how it should be used. Children who use computers have been found to show greater gains in intelligence, structural knowledge, problem solving, and language skills compared with those who do not use technology in their learning
The challenge in early education then becomes discovering new ways to more fully integrate technology into the curriculum to encourage the active engagement and thinking of young children alongside the other modalities of learning that uses the multiple intelligences of our brains to develop skills that foster lifelong learners. Likewise, how do you remove the barrier and integrate technology into the curriculum for young children who come from economically-challenged households.
The Boolean Girl Project focuses specifically on building girls’ familiarity with computer science during the formative elementary and middle school years. Each successive year of participation in the Project’s various programs will build a new layer of experience using an incremental learning approach that is offered in a welcoming environment and designed to encourage a lifelong positive relationship with computer science.
The Project emphasizes coding as well as broader computer engineering skills using the Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry Pi has inputs and outputs, enabling girls to invent real and useful systems that interact within their world, such as switching a light on and off. This hands-on approach provides girls with experiences rather than just being taught the subject of computer science.
The design of the programs and the selection of learning tools, Scratch and Raspberry Pi, are aimed at girls of all economic circumstances. Scratch is a free program and the Raspberry Pi costs $35. The cost for a girl to progress through most tracks is minimal. By removing the need for an expensive computer or laptop, the barrier for participation in the program is greatly reduced.
“Up to age 12 the brain is now a super sponge. It is during this time that the foundations for thinking, language, vision, attitudes, aptitudes and other characteristics are laid down.”