On a recent Friday afternoon at MaKaboom (2905 Homestead Rd. Suite C), a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning center, children were assembling Legos in the facility’s MaKaSpace. Here, children can build as tall and wide a Lego structure as they liked. Access to the room comes with an hourly fee. But a child can use the MaKaSpace for free if they have a sibling currently attending a class at MaKaboom at the same time.
“We’re a robotics and coding program provider,” said Sawyer Kim, co-founder of MaKaboom. “Each of the classes teaches both hardware and software because we want to bring coding out of screens and onto hands-on work. When people think of coding, they probably think about typing on a keyboard and looking at a screen. But we shouldn’t limit coding to that. Many of our daily products in our lives use computers. We want to incorporate the coding concept and let kids use it to bring their ideas into the real world. Knowledge of coding is a kind of digital literacy. Learning to code is like learning a new language. You use it to learn something else.”
Kim added that MaKaboom’s classes are project-based and that students can give input on what projects they’d like to work on. Kim showed a circuit that connected to a computer, an example of a hands-on project students might work on outside of coding.
“The students learn the coding concept they need to solve the problem,” Kim said. “During the project, students use their problem-solving ability and communication skills. We actually prefer that they work with teams so they can interact with other kids and provide each other with ideas.”
Courses MaKaboom is advertising online include, but are not limited to, robot programming, game making in Scratch (a free programming language and online community), physical computing, Lego Boost with Block Programming and MaKey MaKey (turning everyday objects into keys) with Scratch. Beginning this month, MaKaboom will be offering robotics building birthday parties at its facility.
“Eventually when our students become more proficient with coding, we’re going to let them be more involved with teaching opportunities so they can share what they learned with other kids,” Kim said. “You learn best when you are teaching.”
According to Kim, MaKaboom is committed to giving back to the local and international community. The center is accepting donations for Legos, technical toys and old cell phones to send to the E3EM Foundation in Tanzania.
“We’re working with non-profit organizations to provide training so they can teach kids from low-income families and from low-income neighborhoods,” Kim said. “On a global level, we have been providing educational materials to the E3EM Foundation in Tanzania.”
Visit www.MaKaboom.com for more information about course offerings and class schedules.