Acquiring strong digital skills is essential, a must for everyone interested in building a successful career, and especially important for youth. In addition to learning subjects like Math and Philosophy, kids need to become familiar with the logic of coding to be prepared for their future. A digital future. According to the European Commission, by 2020, 90% of jobs in Europe will require digital skills.  

Kids playing with a computer

Throughout the past 5 years, the Microsoft Innovation Center Brussels has actively worked with schools to introduce and bring children closer to IT.

The MIC organizes coding sessions for kids, always based on the idea of learning while having fun.

Pierre Williame is Head of Multimedia at the Collège Saint-Hubert one of the schools that regularly takes part in the MIC Brusselscoding sessions for kids. Ninety-six of his students, between the ages of 10 – 12, attended Kodu and Micro:bit sessions where they learned to create their own digital world or to program a tiny computer that measures ambient temperature or humidity levels, amongst other things.

How did you hear about the MIC Brussels’ coding sessions for kids and what triggered you to participate?

Pierre Williame : “Before speaking with a parent of a student from my school, I didn’t know about the MIC Brussels. I had already heard about Kodu, but I had never pursued the subject. At the time, I was already teaching code to my students during the Computer Science class. I thought that taking part in the MIC Brusselscoding sessions was the perfect opportunity to discover something new, and especially to share it with my students.”

Kids paying attention to the coach during a coding session at the MIC Brussels
Kids paying attention to the coach during a coding session at the MIC Brussels
What was the feedback of the kids & the teachers about their experience?

“The students were straight away delighted with their experience with Kodu. Kodu allows students to develop their artistic skills and at the same time, their programming logic. Depending on their interest, they feel more inclined towards world development or programming, but many students told me that they loved both.”, says Pierre.

“The teachers who accompanied me were pleasantly surprised by the richness of the interface and Kodu’s concept. The hospitality at the MIC Brussels was also a very positive point for all the participants. We were welcomed and accommodated. Some students even told me that they felt as if they were at a hotel or a reception.”

 

Tell us more about your role in your school and how you develop specific activities around coding? What brought you to include more coding in the curriculum?

“I teach Computer Science classes to students of the 4th, 5th and 6th grade. I work with them in groups of maximum 13 students, and each student has 1 hour of computer in their weekly schedule.”

“A few years ago, I started teaching HTML code to my students so that they could build the base of a website. Currently, I am working on the project “Hour of code” for October. The older students discover the Swift language from Apple with the Swift Playgrounds application on a tablet. In the 4th grade, they learn the basics of programming with Lego WeDo 2.0 and from the 5th grade on, they pass on to Lego Mindstorm EV3, which is more complex and more powerful.”

“Since the 2017-2018 school year, some of the 6th grade students participate in the FLL (First Lego League) with robots built and programmed at school. They participate in this competition to do robotics tests, to present a scientific project and to show that they have notions of team spirit. In the future, I would like to develop apps for smartphones and/or tablets with the students.”

 

You have developed these activities for some time now: which impact did it have on kids? Did you see any changes on how girls were perceiving coding?

“Right now, students are immersed in the digital world and I think it is very important that they understand how it works. The students’ interest is real, and they acquire a work method with a scientific approach that allows them to be more efficient.”

“Girls have a more logical approach than boys in general. It’s just due to the maturity of girls at that age. Generally, they have a good feeling with coding. I try to always make it as fun as Kodu.”

If you teach in a school in Brussels and would like more information about our coding sessions, don’t hesitate to contact us at info@mic-brussels.be! We will be pleased to answer your questions and give you further information 😊