This week’s new experience was an odd one. My kids were enrolled in two weeks of free Apple coding camps given by Apple Stores across Sydney. We had heard about these a year ago but were too late to participate having read about it after the fact. This year we were on the ball and were able to secure a place for all three kids in all three camps offered: Sphero Robots; Music Making with Garage Band and Storytelling with Clips. As these camps were clearly new experiences for my kids and not me, what’s the deal? Apple being Apple and not child minders, required us parents to sit through the camps in case of emergency. As a result, I too sat in on the lectures. I got to know the instructors and more about Apple Studio and even sat in a class on parental controls.
The camps were offered over three days and were 90-minutes each visit. Three camps meant we were in the store for a total of 8 days between the Broadway and George Street locations.
The first workshop was spent learning to program a sphero robot, we have one at home, the Star Wars “bb8.” The kids had a blast instructing sphero to dance, spin, get his disco lights flashing and crowing like a rooster. Each group put on a fun display with their own robot. We all learnt technical terms like accelerometer; gyrometer and heading. The teachers were fab too, super kind and fun to be around. My kids were drawn to them immediately.
I was impressed with the creativity and cleverness of their final projects. It was fun and educational so a win-win for both parent and child. My littlest one’s sphero robot project mimicked a poorly behaved dog who was set on a loop of disobedience to her dismay. Hilarious!
Whilst they were deep into these antics, I got to know some of the guys running the class. One teacher was from Seattle, what a funny small world this is! The constant topic of Australian permanent residency and citizenship was discussed. The time is takes to feel settled in our new home and make friends was also an easy way for us to bond.
The second workshop, using Garage Band to make music, is one that my kids were already familiar with and love. The instructors would start the day with some activities to break the ice. I love these corporate “get to know one another” games. Memorising everyone’s name, having to pair off and ask questions about musical tastes of your partner and then introducing them to the group. It’s so awkward watching the kids do this activity. The confidence that so naturally comes to some and the obvious complete lack of skill in others is apparent. It’s good practice for everyone.
I get to know the teachers a bit more today and learn that there are ongoing classes at Apple all the time. They can be found when checking out a section on their website called Today at Apple. They also have something called The Studio where you can pop in for free and work on a project with the help of a resident expert, so cool.
The third camp we attended was on Storytelling with the Clips app. It started out a bit slow as the kids navigated new instructors and a new app for them but ended in some very unique projects by the end of the week. We all learnt how to edit our shorts together and do funny things like make a person disappear or perform some magic trick. It was clear that the people running the kid’s camps loved playing with these themselves. They were really into the movie making, as I overhear them suggesting the kids to try a wide shot, experiment with different angles, try this or that. They were all so creative.
During the second week, a small course was offered to parents about managing what the kids see and use on their devices, it was called Parental Visibility. I opted out of this the first week because I am definitely not a tech person and my other half maintains our systems at home with a much higher level of knowledge on privacy and data protection. It seemed silly for me to participate. Upon returning home that first week and relaying this to him I was mocked for not taking part in a new experience for myself, touche! So naturally when it was offered to me for a second time I jumped at the opportunity. The course covered using family iCloud, a family iTunes account, screen time limits, guided access, and find friends. I knew more than I expected thanks to Stephen for always being on top of our tech set up and looking out for our kids. As a score one for mom, I was able to teach him about Guided Access for the kids on their iPads. It allows you to control which features are available at a given time. For example, your kids have homework to do but you don’t want them on social media. You can allow them access to Word or their school’s homework tool but nothing else. You can even section off part of the screen so that it will not work for finger swipes. This all can be controlled from your own device too. So cool!
It was a good reminder to just say yes and that there is always something new to learn, even when you least expect it.