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13 resources to get girls started on coding, engineering and creative digital at home

At TECgirls we get asked a lot on how to help more girls get into coding or engineering, so we thought we could pull together some resources you can use to help build their skills, introduce concepts and answer questions or spark a lifelong curiosity. We’ve got tutorials and guides, video series and games and activities, so there’s something for you whether you have five minutes, an hour, every kind of device or even want to turn off the screens for a while.

Tutorials and guides

Sometimes it’s fun to play around, but sometimes you want a nice, step-by-step guide so your kid will have something to show for their work.

Scratch is the go-to starting place for kicking off a journey into coding. It uses simple blocks of pre-programmed code to help kids build anything from an image to a full-blown animation. Taught in many schools across the UK, this is something anyone who can read can start to pick up. But it's important to help girls see there is more to Scratch than just the cat sprite. There are some really cool advanced projects they can have a go at, including making games or creating multi-frame animated videos. With helpful tutorials, this will get girls coding in no time.

This website should be your first stop on the road to learning about coding and creative digital at home. It has videos! It has apps! It features inspiring role models in tech! It has a showcase of projects other kids have completed! But the reason it is in the tutorials and guides section is because, you guessed it, it has a boatload of tutorials, modules, and self-paced courses to get your kids putting concepts into practice now. We strongly recommend their Hour of Code series as a great place to get started.

Teach Computing usually focuses on teaching teachers to teach computing (say that three times fast), but their experts have put together some engaging courses that students and their parents can access and use at home.

You might know the Raspberry Pi as the device that seeks to encourage enthusiasts to build and program their own computers, but they are also dedicated to introducing kids to coding with a Code Club, a weekly live stream, practical tutorials and more.

We are big fans of micro:bits. They are little programable boards that can light up and make sounds and help kids learn that coding is so much more than just code on a screen. You can create timers, games, even some wearable tech. The actual micro:bits can be purchased from a number of websites, though quite a few are sold out at the moment. OKDO had some last time we checked and they only cost £16 for the starter pack. However, you don't need to buy the kit to get started. The MakeCode platform also has a demo mode that lets you see your code on a virtual micro:bit. This is great as it means you can test as you code. If you have older girls, you can also encourage them to move away from the blocks and into JavaScript mode, learning how to write their own code like professional developers.

Video series

If you want quick introductions to concepts and careers in digital, check out the video series below.

During the first lockdown, the BBC went bonkers with their home learning videos, producing and publishing videos that covered subjects across the curriculum at breakneck speed. They have loads of videos that introduce kids to concepts in computing, design and technology and art and design for both KS1 and KS2 in England and all the other primary school levels in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

If you have hit the “why do I need to learn this?” wall, this quick video series might be just what you need. Digital Schoolhouse is supported by creative digital heavyweights, including Nintendo, Playstation and Ubisoft, and they have encouraged people across the creative digital sector to record minute-long videos that answer the question of what sort of careers are open to kids who learn digital skills and concepts.

You might know Maddie from the BBC show Do You Know. Maddie and Greg have put together a YouTube show called Let's Go Live, which has tons of great content and projects on a wide range of STEM topics. While more science than engineering or tech, it is still a great source for inspiration and ideas, with lots of making opportunities from things you have around the house.

This is another YouTube show, this time where the hosts build all of the inventions kids come up with. It's a bit silly, but a great way to show kids that their ideas could form amazing new inventions. While some of the ideas might not change the world, it's definitely entertaining!

If you have a budding engineer on your hands, they might really enjoy these shows from the BBC. The show is aimed more at younger viewers and Grace and Catie show off a number of awesome machines from racing cars and bikes to boats and trains. We feel this is a brilliant show to help rebalance a lot of the traditional "cars and trucks are for boys" stereotypes. There are over 60 episodes on BBC iPlayer available to watch for free. The best part is, both Grace and Catie are great role models for young girls who love racing. Catie is a rally car driver who drives for Andretti United Extreme E electric off-road competitions. Grace is a teacher and motor enthusiast who is a big promoter of electric vehicles.

Games and activities

We all know kids learn best through play, so here are some resources that teach through interactive play.

Barefoot Computing aims to introduce computational thinking to primary school children. That is, they use various activities and online games to get children practising skills that will help them when it comes time to learn coding, such as perseverance, logical thinking and debugging (i.e., finding the flaw in your series of instructions). They do this with both mechanical and more artistic activities, so there is something to spark the interest of children of all kinds and abilities.

This website has a simple layout, but it is one of the most comprehensive websites to find activities to engage children in subjects across all STEM and STEM-related subjects. They have a series of activities to follow along with the BBC Bitesize curriculum, and they have worked with Engineering UK to create loads of materials that look specifically at engineering, too.

The Royal Academy of Engineering has put together a series of learning resources and activities to help children look more deeply at the impact of engineering on our world. There are videos and activities that can be set up at home, as well as prompts to help facilitate conversation, so you can make sure your child is really thinking about how engineering can solve problems all around the world.

For all the young creatives and designers out there, we suggest letting them play a bit on Canva. Canva is a free design editor with tons of templates and graphics that can be used to create anything from a poster to an animated social media post. This is a bit of an unusual recommendation, as Canva wasn't set up for kids. But it's a nice way to help kids see how they can play with design online. We would suggest parents help with younger girls, but girls 8+ can probably have a go and create some things on their own. There is a free mode and you can get the kids to make cool things like a poster for their room that you can print or maybe an animated design they can send a family member to cheer up their day. They can also use it to really jazz up their school assignments. There are some tutorials on how to get started here.

If you are still looking for more ideas or want something more offline, check out this huge long list of ideas from Left Brain Craft Brain. There should be enough in here to at least get you through the next few months. And when the kids go back to school, keep these activities in mind for the summer!

These are our suggestions, but if you think we’ve missed some great resources, let us know. Best of luck, and have lots of fun!


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