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June 25, 2021 News

June 25, 2021 News:  Now that the pandemic seems to be “more under control” people are scrambling to get their elementary and middle school children signed up for summer camps!

Maryland Summer Camps

Maryland summer camps are thriving in 2021.  Tennis camps, arts camps, and especially tech camps are getting kids out of the house, around their peers, and enjoying life again!

Summer Camp Coding

Summer camp coding is a fun and educational experience for many children in grades 1 through 8.  Initially such kids are drawn to coding from their love of video games.  But at Panda Programmer, the beauty and elegance of computer science quickly wins them over.  The students see the rewards first hand, of writing clean, well-don code.  

Summer Day Camp

Summer day camp is a great way to allow children to experiment with new hobbies and ideas.  At Panda Programmer, we welcome both beginning programmers and advanced programmers.  Our experienced teachers guide students and allow them to proceed at their own pace.  That way students are neither overwhelmed, nor are they bored!

Well, that’s about it for the June 25, 2021 News…  See you at summer camp!

June 25, 2021 news

Camps in Maryland

One of the BEST camps in Maryland

Panda Programmer is one of the best camps in Maryland.  Since 2014 we have offered fun-filled, educational summer camps for students in elementary and middle school grades.  The focus for our camps is computer programming (coding).  And, of course we have fun!

The theoretical foundation of our camps and classes is Scratch.  Scratch is the basic building block of our curriculum.  Once campers have mastered the topic of Scratch, we encourage them to try additional topics such as robotsPython, and JavaScript/HTML.  Our guiding motto has always been “We don’t just play computer games, we create them!”  And this motto continues to be our guiding principle today.  We all know, kids in the grades of 1 though 8 are fascinated by video games.  The tend to play them a lot!  At Panda Programmer we do our best to take the energy from this fascination with these computer games, and translate it into motivation to learn computer science to create games and educational projects.  This thinking is critical to kids’ future academic pursuits. The kids love learning, and creating their projects.  

Options for camps

Camps in Maryland come in different varieties.  Some camps specialize in sports, some in music, and some in art.  Traditionally our Panda Programmer summer camp focuses on computer programming.  However we like to take breaks and run around outside.  We also try to “develop the whole child” by also offering music and foreign language classes as part of our Maryland summer camps.  

Our camps in Maryland are offered in full-day and half-day options.  Full-day campers arrive at 9 am and leave by 4 pm.  Half-day campers have the option of arriving at 9 am and staying until noon, or arriving at 1 pm and staying until 4 pm.  Full-day campers bring their own packed lunch from home, and optimally a snack for breaks in the middle of the day as well. 

Sign your child up today for a wonderful experience with summer camp coding!

camps in maryland

Rockville Summer Camp 2021

Panda Programmer is excited to offer its in-person summer camp in Rockville for the summer of 2021!  Our experienced teachers will be guiding campers between grades 1 and 8 as they learn the wonders of computer programming.  

Our curriculum focuses on Scratch, a platform designed for kids by the MIT media lab in Boston.  Campers are grouped in cohorts, wear masks, and have plenty of space to play outside in the fresh air.  For more information on our 2021 summer camp in Rockville, click on Summer Camps.

Panda Programmer has been offering summer camp coding since 2015.  We cater primarily to elementary and middle school students from grades 1 to 8.  Because our classes and camps are fun, kids love to come!  And as we deal with the challenges of the pandemic and 2021 camp, we are keeping the campers excited.  Therefore they remain engaged with our curriculum-  and we constantly update it.  We are teaching not only Scratch, but also Scratch JR, Python, HTML, and JavaScript.  Our advanced Scratch curriculum provides challenges to our students who have mastered the programming fundamentals in their online and in-person classes during the school year. Maryland summer camps rock!

For more information on our curriculum please click on our curriculum page.  

For more information on our online classes, in-person classes, virtual mini-camps, or in-person summer camps, contact us anytime at:  Outreach@PandaProgrammer.com or 443-26-PANDA.  We love doing Camps in Maryland!

smiling camper

1 Hour Classes

1 Hour Classes

1 hour classes may be the answer! Are your children all “Zoomed” out from remote schooling?  Is the typical 2 hour Panda Programmer class just too much time for your child during the pandemic?

No problem! As of December, 2020 Panda Programmer is offering 1 hour classes to our students.  Simply choose the “1 hour” format when you sign up for the class, and your child will be registered for this newer, shorter format.  It’s a better way to do coding classes for kids.

We still teach the same material in the same fun environment-  it’s just shorter!

And if you prefer our traditional 2 hour format, that is still offered as well.  Call or email us with any questions on the length of our classes.  

Update for summer 2021:  We will continue to offer a choice for the length of our online classes.  Students may opt for the shorter class (60 minutes) or the longer traditional class (120 minuts).  And of course there’s our kids programming summer camp!  Our in-person summer camp is offered in half-day sessions, which are 3 hours long.  Or students can come for the entire day.  Full-day camp is 7 hours long.  Often kids have more fun in the in-person environment.  They can chat with their friends.  They can meet new friends.  And they have plenty of peers to show off their work to!  That goes the other direction as well, as students can learn from the peers too.

Regarding the fall for 2021:  Panda Programmer is hoping to once again offer in-school after-school classes.  Our traditional classes are taught in MCPS elementary schools.  1 hour classes are not part of this curriculum.  The in-school after-school classes are typically 2 hours long.  

Hoping to see you and your children in the fall!

1 hour classes

Why Kids should learn how to code

Why kids should learn how to code

THE FOLLOWING ARE 12 REASONS GIVEN BY LEADERS IN TECHNOLOGY ABOUT WHY KIDS NEED TO LEARN HOW TO CODE:

1. GIVES YOU SUPERPOWERS

“I believe technology should give us superpowers. Everyone should have the opportunity to learn to think, analyze, and create with technology.” Hilary Mason – Chief Scientist, Bitly

2. WE NEED TALENT

“Because our policy at Facebook is literally to hire as many talented engineers as we can find. There just aren’t enough people who are trained and have these skills today.” Mark Zuckerberg – Founder, Facebook

3. WE ALL DEPEND ON TECHNOLOGY

“Here we are, 2013. We ALL depend on technology to communicate to a bank.  However none of us knows how to read and write code. It’s important for these kids.  Right now, starting at 8 years old, to read and write code.” will.i.am – Musician/The Black Eyed Peas and Entrepreneur

4. YOU WON’T BE LEFT BEHIND

“One hundred years ago, people  faced the choice of learning to read.  Otherwise they could remain illiterate laborers.  Society would leave them behind as have-nots.  It is a rapidly modernizing world. In the coming century, being able to command the world that will be thoroughly computerized.  It will set apart those who can live successfully in the future from those who will be utterly left behind.” Yishan Wong – CEO, Reddit

5. TEACHES YOU HOW TO THINK

“I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer. Because it teaches you how to think.” — STEVE JOBS, THE LOST INTERVIEW

6. UNLOCK CREATIVITY & OPEN DOORS

“Every student deserves the opportunity to learn computer programming. Coding can unlock creativity and open doors for an entire generation of American students. We need more coders — not just in the tech industry, but in every industry.” Mark Pincus – CEO and Founder, Zynga

7. FEEL EMPOWERED, GAIN CONFIDENCE

“Learning to code makes kids feel empowered.  Also creative.  And also confident. If we want our young women to retain these traits into adulthood, a great option is to expose them to computer programming in their youth.” Susan Wojcicki – Senior Vice President, Google

8. THINK ABOUT THINKING

“Programming allows you to think about thinking, and while debugging you learn to learn.” Nicholas Negroponte – Founder and Chairman Emeritus of MIT’s Media Lab

9. ACHIEVE YOUR DREAMS

“If you can program a computer, you can achieve your dreams. A computer doesn’t care about your family background, your gender, just that you know how to code. But we’re only teaching it in a small handful of schools, why?” Dick Costolo – CEO, Twitter

10. IT’S A NECESSARY 21ST CENTURY SKILL

“All of the today’s kids will need it. Along with reading, writing, and arithmetic.  They require a basic understanding of computation and the role that it plays across a wide range of disciplines. Coding is engaging and empowering. It’s a necessary 21st Century skill.” Jan Cuny – Program Officer, National Science Foundation

11. NEED FOR DIVERSITY AND MULTIPLE PERSPECTIVES

“We must work diligently to democratize computer science learning so that no group is denied access to this fundamental knowledge. Not only is this an issue of civil rights, but computer science as a field desperately needs diverse and multiple perspectives.” Jane Margolis – Senior Researcher and Author, UCLA

12. BE CREATIVE, PROBLEM SOLVE AND LEARN TEAMWORK

“Are you creative? Do you love problem-solving? Is teamwork a strength? Do you want to have the power to change the world? If “yes” to all of these, then computer science – programming – is for you!” Ed Lazowska – Computer Science & Engineering, University of Washington

Middle School curriculum

Middle School Curriculum

Dear Panda Programmer,

My son is in middle school and would like to learn how to code.  I saw that you teach middle school students as well as elementary school students.  How are they in the same programming class?  Aren’t the ages too disparate?  And would a middle schooler begin with Scratch, or Python, or ScratchJr?  Thanks in advance,

Pam in New York City

Who uses Scratch? and What is ScratchJr?

Many parents ask us: Who uses Scratch? and What is ScratchJr?

These are two interesting but very different questions!  (and they come up often as we teach coding for kids) Scratch vs ScratchJR:

Scratch is used by many people from all backgrounds, in all countries around the world. The last count we are aware of is 43 million registered users! They use it in all types of settings: schools, libraries, homes, museums, community locations, and more.  Scratch was created by the MIT Media Lab.  Scratch is designed especially for young people ages between 7 and 16, but people of all ages create and share with Scratch. Traditionally younger children tend to use ScratchJr, a simplified version of Scratch designed for ages 5 to 6.  And that’s the “Scratch” part of the Scratch vs ScratchJR comparison.

ScratchJr is an introductory programming language that enables young children (ages 5-6) to create their own interactive stories and games. ScratchJr users do not need to know how to type! Children snap together graphical programming blocks to make characters move, jump, dance, and sing. While the programs in ScratchJr are simpler than those of Scratch, the logical thinking required to create ScratchJr programs is remarkably the same. Children can modify ScratchJr characters in the paint editor, add their own voices and sounds, even insert photos of themselves — then use the programming blocks to make their custom characters come to life.
ScratchJr is available as a free app for both iPad and Android tablets.  That wraps up the “ScratchJR” part of the Scratch vs ScratchJR comparison.

Fortunately our curriculum makes extensive use of both Scratch and ScratchJR!  Since our curriculum is self-paced, our students can make the most use of both platforms, advancing to Scratch when they are truly ready.
-Will

Thoughts on remote learning

Online classes– With the end of lockdowns hopefully approaching, many parents of school-age children will breathe a sigh of relief. No longer will they have to monitor their children’s virtual assignments. Nor will they worry about how to manage the Zoom classroom for their kids. The pandemic and the executive orders to close schools have challenged teachers, parents, and children. There is stress of making sure that children are learning. What they should be learning has added an extra layer of pressure on both parents and teachers.

We hope that by next fall, school personnel will have figured out a way for students and faculty to return safely to school. But the reality of COVID-19 is that many students may start the fall with some version of online instruction. Even if children go in person, at some point.  During the year, schools may have to then revert to virtual learning.

The question becomes: How can parents best support their children if they have to rely on virtual instruction again? What we know from informal observation is that some children have managed better than others this spring. Some children adapted easily to the Zoom classroom and video interactions. Other children had more difficulty managing the work presented mostly through screen instructions.

Online Classes

One woman Leila interviewed her seven-year-old granddaughter, Sarah, to gain insight into the experience of online learning – what worked, what was harder, what she liked about online learning and what she missed about not being in her classroom. She is just finishing first grade and was happy to answer questions. We recognize that this is just one child’s view, but she provided some great input on the merits and drawbacks of online learning – answers that help us understand this experience through the eyes of a child who has been thrust out of the classroom and onto the computer.

Asked if she liked online learning, Sarah said, “Yes, because when I am done with learning I can play. I don’t have to wait for everyone else.” Each day, she watches the videos her teachers make for her, and when she completes them, she gets to play. She also observed that “in school, kids can be loud and teachers have to pause in the middle and wait. At home, no one else is making it loud.” This child is clearly a self-regulated learner; she has the insight to recognize that when kids talk, it gets in the way of her understanding the teacher. Sarah is a child who likes working at her own pace and prefers a quiet environment. Most children learn more efficiently when there are fewer distractions. However, every child learns differently, and this is one area parents could explore with their children.

Class

Sarah disliked several things about learning online. She noted that getting help was harder. “In school, the teacher knows what we are working on together. At home, I have to explain to Mom or Dad what we are working on before they can help me.” Also, she noted that when her teacher gives instructions in class, she uses props, which are more difficult to see online. Sarah added, “Real school is easier because you can ask for help and you don’t have to figure things out alone.” Finally, online instruction has the usual internet glitches. “Sometimes the screen flickers and makes weird noises.” And sometimes, she added, “Online instruction is boring.” We too can feel that way after endless Zoom calls.

We do not necessarily think that Sarah’s experience is universal. Rather, we are encouraging parents to take a few moments to talk with their own children regarding their online classroom experience this spring. By understanding how your children manage online instruction, you may be able to partner with them to create a more effective personal learning environment when schools reopen next fall.

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Coding for kids

Is Coding for kids really that important?

In a word, “Yes!”

  • Coding teaches students to think ahead and strategize a solution. These abilities are helpful across many different challenges and endeavors.
  • Coding teaches kids not to give up. Programmers know that rarely does a program run as expected the first time. But by trying over and over, the programmer is usually able to debug the program and get the results he or she desires.
  • Coding is challenging and collaborative. Panda Programmer encourages students to work together on programs from time to time. Students find that anyone can (including themselves!) can come up with the winning approach to a stubborn programming issue.
  • Coding is good for the brain. We have all heard the phrase “Use it or lose it.” Coding falls into the category of activities that requires students to use their brains to succeed.
  • Coding is fun! Coding is a great pursuit that combines all of the advantages mentioned here in a manner that is enjoyable and fun for students young and old. “Fun” keeps students coming back to coding!

-Panda Programmer

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