Feature Story

Toys teach code—STEM education necessary for the next generation

by Stephanie Chan

STEM education necessary for the next generation

Coding basics can be fun, and can also help pave the way to bridge the future talent gap.

In the time of engineering games and toys for children, everyone from Kibo, Jewelbots, and even Fisher Price are getting into the action. So which toys are best to introduce your kids to the big world of programming?

Pip is the newest toy on the block, hailing from the makers of Raspberry Pi—the single board computers made to help teach basic computer science. Pip is powered by the Raspberry Pi Compute Module Set, which holds everything from a touchscreen, speaker, controls, ports, and LEDs.

This game is special in that it references back-in-the-day retro games. Pip is a code learning environment that uses Curiosity, their own browser-based platform. This software platform can support code in JavaScript, Python, Lua, HTML/CSS and PHP.

Mary Ann Azevedo wrote that the connected toy trend is and has been on the upswing. The NPD Group saw that connected toy sales were up 96 percent in the twelve months ending September 30th, 2016. Azevedo also notes that global funding in connected toy startups went from $6.6 million in 2011 to $104.3 million in 2015.

Clearly the time to introduce coding and STEM education to young audiences is now, and has been present and crucial for years.

Cisco understands the need to bridge the talent gap—in a recent blog, Senior Vice President for Cisco Services Joe Cozzolino writes that 41% of CIOs expect a skills shortage in areas like data science, business intelligence, analytics, and more.

The company's heart for developers is also evident through their Developer Network (DevNet) community. DevNet is a place for programmers and those learning how to code to come together and build applications, creating APIs and tools for everything from IoT, cloud, open source, and more. Susie Wee, Cisco's VP and CTO of DevNet, stresses that these days, everybody is a developer in the innovation-driven economy. Check out her keynote on developer innovations at Cisco Live Berlin 2017 below.

Cisco's annual Girls Power Tech event invites local young women from around the world to global Cisco locations in an effort to share the magic of technology. In 2017, 90 Cisco offices in 50 countries participated, and hosted more than 6,000 students, 1,689 volunteers, and more than 15,000 mentoring hours. The girls who attend these events get to play games using Cisco TelePresence, they listen to advice from Cisco executives and leaders, and participate in one-on-one mentoring sessions.

Overall, the STEM-fueled day used toys and more to inspire girls towards a future in technology. To learn more about Cisco's work with girls in technology, please check here.