If you ask an average 10 year old if she wants to learn programming, the answer will quite possibly be “no”. However, when kids realize that programming is fun and rewarding, and not hard and frustrating, the result is increased confidence and self-esteem. Tynker’s game-like approach is getting more kids, especially girls, to learn programming — an exciting shift that may also help reverse the dwindling number of girls pursuing computer-related degrees, and bridge the serious talent gap that exists today.
Given current low levels of interest in computer science, by 2022, it is projected that about half a million computer related jobs will be unfilled. Moreover, women are underrepresented in the current talent pool — only 26% of all computer science (CS) related jobs and 18% of computer science related degrees are held by women.
Studies have found that coding, especially for girls, is often thought of as something nerdy, difficult, uncool, and typically male-oriented. EJ Jung, an associate professor of computer science at the University of San Francisco, says there is also an “elbowing out” factor where boys, more commonly exposed to technology at a younger age, can make girls in the class feel like they are so far behind it isn’t worth trying to catch up.
However, those who are exposed to technology and computers at an early age view technology more favorably, as observed in a recent Google Report.
Tynker is a proven way to engage kids in coding before they start feeling the social pressures of high school. With Tynker’s easy approach, kids create games, music videos, animated stories, interactive greeting cards, trivia games and and other fun projects that they are passionate about. This makes coding less geeky and attracts boys and girls who may not be interested in just “programming” or gaming. Girls like the variety of projects, and consider “Tynkering” an outlet for creativity and expression. Plus, projects can be easily shared and enjoyed with friends, which is especially appealing to girls’ social nature.
Parents appreciate Tynker’s ability to engage girls in this male-dominated field. “It appears [that] boys naturally like and excel at Minecraft, Internet related stuff – they seem much more comfortable. I want [my daughter] to feel she can do as well as anyone else. Tynker does just that – it is great for confidence building, and for her to feel empowered and no less than anyone,” states a parent of an 8 year old.
It’s encouraging to hear parents’ claims that Tynker is building kids’ self-confidence in such an opportunity-rich field, and inspiring both boys and girls to become the makers that we need in the future. Another parent offers her explanation of Tynker’s appeal. “I found that [Tynker] teaches the fundamentals of programming in such an easy way – it really does cover the basics of programming logic and thinking very well. The story, the characters, and the entire storyline developing, is a huge hook. The kids really like it, and are quite enamored and interested to live in [Tynker’s] story world while programming.”
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