Learning through play

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of volunteering with BlackGirlsCode for in their “Build a Mobile App in a Day” Los Angeles workshop. I became more sold to the idea of involving more minorities to the tech field at early ages when I realized my grade school cousins were able to understand simply Python programming concepts I was explaining to them. I was impressed.

My own recent and ongoing experiences in re-learning core mathematics and computer science principles I had once not fully understood impressed upon me that at times the way and manner in which we approach the learning of technical material (STEM) is influential in our ability to retain the material and expand upon it.  For example learning in a game like manner, using play, stories, songs, community building, rhymes, allegories is influential in understanding very complex concepts.

It’s impressive to note that complex mathematical concepts such as fractals recursion, binary systems (1’s and 0’s) were intentionally known to Africans and explained through poetry, allegories, spirituality and games. Many African board games and children’s games are mathematical in nature, the abstract art of Africans including the architecture of houses, villages are built in Fractal patterns (self repeating patterns). Some of this mathematical knowledge doesn’t appear in writing or in use in Europe until centuries later.

At the BlackGirlsCode event the young girls were learning through play.  One of the games was a fortune teller game where the children were instructed to create different fortunes. It’s all fun and games but at the end of the day concepts are learned and important seeds planted.

If knowledge, as I define it, is a simply a collection of facts and information then intelligence is the ability to not only properly use that information but infer new information. Intelligence is a play on creativity and knowledge.

I find the African culture to still be very creative, quite innovative and deeply inquisitive. We see it expressed in music, sports, dance, art and in what many may call American pop-culture. I’m excited to what that creative force will lead to as it becomes more expressed in the Sciences and Engineering!

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Me with one of my talented students!

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