Monica, a mother who works in software engineering, turned her hobby of teaching programming to children into a career after giving birth to her daughter two years ago. Her work includes designing the STEM curriculum, looking for interesting gadgets from around the world and turning them into teaching aids. She also organizes hands-on activities in The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) to engage 6-year-olds in programming and design.
Monica believes that STEM education, which combines technology and art, can not only break the traditional impression of IT, but also convince women to get to know more about the IT industries.
Monica now teaches classes regularly at the Robo Workshop in the HKSTP as her company, Blueinno Technology, tries to integrate engineering and children's education. The government's promotion of STEM education in the school sector has brought her attention in just one year. The mother of a 2-year-old daughter humorously said that her research on parenting has improved her teaching methods.
According to Monica, teaching her daughter is the same as teaching her own students, which also requires care and patience. To start a business, she had to be in the company 7x24 hours, but she must manage her limited time well since she would like to spend time with her daughter as well. Now she tries not to be distracted by the phone when she is with her daughter, especially since she only has two or three hours to spend together every day.
The importance of differentiated teaching techniques
Monica says her hopes as an entrepreneur is that “no kid has fears for learning IT", especially for girls.
There are many foreign technology companies, such as Google, that have invested in women's technological education to address the imbalance between men and women in the industry. STEM is not only about teaching inventions, but also about adding the elements of art so that technology is no longer too difficult and boring, and more attractive for girls to experience.
Last year, one of her students, an 11-year-old girl, designed an original app and aspired to start her own business in the future.
To develop a high-quality STEM teaching kit that is suitable for ages 6 to 12, she says she has been planning it for a year with all her heart.
The first batch of teaching aids are cardboard robots. Considering the coordination between children's small muscles, the original joystick is replaced by a button, allowing students to design the shape. Now each lesson will be completed within one and a half hours, taking into account the attention span of the children. The lesson is split in half; the first half focuses on teaching programming, and the second half focuses on hands-on work. Students use different materials to create STEM products during the lesson.
Monica emphasizes that programming should only be learned after the age of 6. She explains that the brain would debit the ability during that stage at the expense of other abilities if the child started to learn logic too early.
She currently has a team of engineering undergraduates as teachers and owns plentiful teaching materials.
Monica says the company is still in the process of optimizing the education system to become a safer teaching place and inspire children to challenge themselves. Everything has been a touch-and-go process. She sent emails to reach out to clients in March 2016, and started teaching only a few students in the first class which helped her to build confidence gradually.
See original post on Topick in Chinese here.