New program focuses on robotics and programming

  • Apr. 8, 2015 3:25 p.m.

In a world of increasing dependencies on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) it’s no wonder organizations such as Sylvan Learning Centre and Scouts Canada have jumped on board to ensure children get early access to fundamental skills in these areas.

While in the past Sylvan Learning Centres have focused primarily on tutoring and ensuring skills are at adequate levels, with the new Sylvan Edge program they are shifting gears to prepare kids with the skills they will need in the ever-changing world of today’s technologies including robotics and computer programming and coding.

Ken and Naz Coulton, who purchased the Red Deer branch of the Learning Centre last year said they are excited to see how the courses will play out in the City as they are already fully booked for two out of three of the upcoming free trial days happening at the Collicutt Centre.

Ken stated the importance of teaching kids coding and robotics skills at a young age is shown by the curiosity fostered among children.

“Anytime you can encourage an interest in STEM you open up a whole new world of possibilities and imagination,” said Ken. “It’s also something that greatly interests kids and math is so prevalent in everything we do, but coding and robotics offers an answer to the question, ‘What good to me is all this math I’m learning?’ that kids so often ask.”

Coding For Kids, Robotics For Kids, Study Edge, and Math Edge are all currently open for registrations through the Centre with a number of upcoming trial days.

Coding For Kids sees students delve into an innovative course teaching them the skills needed to design their own video game and the basics of computer programming through a program called Tynker.

Two coding courses are available – 101 and 102 – with each six-week program geared towards students in Grades 3-8 who have no prior coding experience.

Ken stated the courses not only teach children simple game design and programming/coding skills but also problem solving, logic, physics and more.

He added the course reminds him of a quote from Steve Jobs, inventor and late owner of Apple computers stating, “Everybody in this country should learn to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think.”

The robotics courses offered in the same 101 and 102 levels, utilizing Lego Education’s award-winning WeDo software to instruct students step by step how kinetic energy can create movement, as well as how to use sensors, motors, and the computer software to control your Lego robot and navigate simple tasks.

Both the Math Edge and Study Edge programs aim to assist students to become independent thinkers and master problem solvers, he said. The programs aim to help students Grades 1-5 to get an edge up on their math and study skills using a variety of brain-boosting activities.

The launch of the Centre’s STEM based programs follows the launch of Scouts Canada’s STEM based pilot project recently launched which aims to promote interest in STEM subjects among Scouting youth.

The Scouts Canada web site describes STEM programs as a way to, “Ignite curiosity, foster innovation and create a climate in which youth can see themselves as future leaders of science and technology, limited only by the boundaries of their imagination.”

Sylvan Learning Centre will be running a free ‘Build a Robot With Your Child Day’ on April 24th for families to learn more about the programs.

To learn more about the robotics and programming courses or to register for the build a robot day call the Coultons at 403-341-6110 or email or visit