If kids can figure out how to save a princess or build an alternate universe, they can learn how to code. There are free courses for almost anything on the internet, so I have “strongly suggested” my kids to “just do a few tasks each day” by signing them up for online coding classes.
My youngest participated in his school’s Robotics Club which culminated with a competition called Vex IQ. I wish coding and robotics were taught in schools as required curriculum because I support anything that encourages using technology by taking an active role.
Similar to the Lego Mindstorms system, Vex IQ is a robotics platform that incorporates science, math, and technology by using snap-together motors and sensors to build “robots.” During a robotics competition, points are assigned for various tasks or taken away for penalties, all within a given time frame.
27 teams competed in the 2016 Illinois VEX IQ State Championship. Each school had about 6 teams, made up of 4 kids each. My son’s team made it to the finals. They tied with two other teams for 5th place with 28 points. They were only one point away from tying with 4th and 3rd place at 29 points, which means they could have battled to go on to the World Robotics Championship. Yes, it’s a thing. Yes, this competition was as exciting as watching them in sports. If your kids like computer gaming and they offer something like this in your city, it’s a fantastic side gig with little time commitment that is flexible around their other activities.
Watch the final round.