When in front of a computer, tablet, or phone, children often surprise us with their technological knowledge—typing, swiping, and taking photos sometimes before they know how to walk or talk. An abundance of technology is ever-present in children’s lives, as they watch their parents and teachers use smartphones and computers every day. In our current climate, with parallel remote learning, the presence and significance of technology in the classroom has increased.
Technology, however, is more than just a tool to keep students and teachers connected with one another. From coding in the programming environment Scratch to creating stop motion videos and 3D designs, the innovative Technology curriculum for Middle and Upper School students at Ridgefield Academy is designed to facilitate computational thinking.
Computational thinking refers to the thought processes involved in expressing solutions as computational steps or algorithms that can be carried out by a computer.
The benefits of computational thinking are numerous, from developing critical thinking and problem solving skills to fostering technological understanding and practical application.
“By providing computational thinking lessons beginning in Middle School, we are ensuring our students stay motivated to learn computer science skills from a young age,” Middle and Upper School Technology teacher Aayushi Dangol said. “It provides the skillset our kids need.”
Computational thinking does not exist only within the realm of the computer science discipline and the Technology classroom. The MS/US Technology Program at RA integrates technology with several other subjects, including Math, Science, English, and History.
“Technology at RA is an interdisciplinary subject, so that students develop a broad perspective towards it,” Dangol said. “Computational thinking has applications within mathematics, science, and beyond.”
Students in Grade 6, for example, studied the architecture and defense structures of Renaissance castles in History class. As part of an interdisciplinary collaboration, they coded 3D designs of Renaissance castles in Tinkercad, a 3D digital design app. The interdisciplinary assignment cultivates a holistic understanding of the topic—in this case, pairing historical context with skills developed in Technology class.
Outside the classroom, the computational thinking skills students develop at RA are immensely valued. With technology advancing at such a rapid pace, the demand for these skills often outweighs the supply.
“There is not enough skilled manpower to fill the demand of computer science and coding related jobs,” Dangol said. “By offering computational lessons at a very young age, we are equipping our children with a skillset that is necessary to be successful in the future while simultaneously doing our best to meet the needs of the technological demand of our current society.”
Middle and Upper School Technology teacher Aayushi Dangol recently published a website featuring student projects, providing a behind-the-scenes look at the creative, interdisciplinary lessons in the Technology classroom. Visit the site and discover student projects here.