Modex has officially started a program through which it aims to introduce middle schoolers to the realm of programming and familiarize them with blockchain technology. Due to the fact that the majority of the tech team is located in Romania, Modex, the blockchain as database company wishes to give something back to the Romanian community. Thus the Modex CSR campaign debuted between the 12th – 14th of August, at the Titu Maiorescu secondary school, with students with ages between eight and fourteen.
The last couple of decades have witnessed an exponential increase in technological advancements. It is safe to say that we have reached a point in history where the rate in which innovation has started to propagate much faster than society is capable to adopt these changes in day to day activities and even understanding. Although technology opens new windows of opportunity in the business sphere and provides a significant increase in living standards, it also generates a cleavage between the segment of the population which is able to keep up with the latest changes and people who become overwhelmed by the relentless race towards innovation. This discrepancy is often felt in the child-parent relationship, where the later is too preoccupied with the daily struggles to keep up with the latest trends in technology, while the young and inquisitive spirit is always eager to learn and expand their understanding of the surrounding world through playful interactions. As the age gap between generations becomes more pronounced, this cleavage also becomes more noticeable.
How do you work towards ensuring a better future? Do you start by building innovative sustainable technologies that will reshape the world we live in a matter of years? It would, in fact, be an excellent endeavor, but there is a simpler way which often gets put in the sidelines, education, namely educating the next generation which will inevitably inherit the world. Indeed, there are numerous programs and workshops which are designed to introduce the uninitiated to the incredibly diverse realm of technology and programming. The problem is that the majority of these initiatives are focused on students or people who wish to make a career change, to rediscover their path. But why not start earlier? Why doesn’t the education system provide an environment which helps children discover a passion which can be developed throughout their formative years into a respectable profession, one which will not only ensure a stable and secure future for them but also mold them into the next generation of actors who will push innovation even further?
As a company focused on delivering blockchain solutions to the enterprise sphere, it is difficult to imagine Modex interacting with children with ages between eight and fourteen years. This is mainly due to the fact that blockchain currently ranks among the most complex and difficult to understand tech topics. Contrary to this aspect, Alin Iftemi, Head of Modex took an important step towards achieving this goal. Over a span of three days, on the 12th, 13th, and 14th of August, Alin had the chance to meet with students from the second up to the eighth grade from the Titu Maiorescu secondary school in Bucharest, and introduce them to core programming principles and the concept of blockchain. During the Introduction to Blockchain course, Alin took a step by step approach and showcased using real-life examples the difference between software and hardware, moving slowly to more complex concepts such as sorting algorithms and blockchain.
During the presentation, the children manifested real enthusiasm and eagerness to learn more about the subject. Some of the children who attended the presentation took their first steps in programming much earlier. This is the case of Sandra, a nine-year-old who has already coded a simple game. But some of them discovered from Alin’s presentation that gadgets such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops fall into the hardware category and that games and applications are known as software.
It can’t be said that all of the eighty children who attended the Introduction to Blockchain course were math prodigies, or that everyone knew what an algorithm is. The goal wasn’t to gather in a single place the most promising young talent in Bucharest but to demonstrate that with enough patience and a capable instructor, every child can make their first steps in this field. To demonstrate what a sorting algorithm is, Alin employed a practical example, using glasses of juice and asked the children how would they solve the problem, which further led to the interchangeability algorithm and other general concepts.
The final challenge was to make the children understand what blockchain technology is. To achieve this, the Head of Modex focused on one of the core characteristics of the technology, decentralization. How do you stimulate children to participate and be attentive? With treats of course, in this case, pieces of candy which were shared among all the participants to help them understand what is the difference between a centralized and a decentralized system. In the centralized system example, Alin held a list and asked the children to exchange pieces of candy between them, while he wrote down the exchanges. In the end, the children came to the realization that they no longer knew for sure who gave who candy, and furthermore, they realized that the only owner of the transaction list, Alin could not be trusted, because he purposely altered the record. When the decentralized model was showcased, each child wrote down the exchanges of candy and quickly understood that if everyone holds a record of all the exchanges of candy, the system cannot be cheated.
These practical examples helped the children grasp the difference between a traditional database and a blockchain database. They learned that a centralized system can be tampered with and have all the data stolen, while a distributed record shared among each participant is much safer for users. In the end, we asked eleven-year-old Luca, what is blockchain, and he promptly answered that it is a method through which you can protect your data from hackers. Ten-year-old Ioana said that she enjoyed the experiment with glasses of juice because it taught her about the importance of logic and organization. She also underlined an interesting aspect for her age, that algorithms are a series of steps which need to be followed in a logical order, just like in life.
The Introduction to Blockchain course was organized by the Initiativa pentru Competitivitate – INACO and Andreea Paul within the pilot project of the “Smart Digital Smart Educational Center 4.0” in the first school in Romania equipped with Smart Lab 4.0 technologies: 3D printers, 3D scanners, digital educational robots, virtual reality glasses, and software with thousands of digital educational applications.
In addition to the Blockchain course, the children also learned about: Initiation in 3D printing and 3D scanning, how professions will look in the future, practical applications of virtual reality, IoT, and mental training for increased school performance.
When Alin asked what is the difference between man and computer, everyone was with their hands in the air, and Andrei, one of the participants answered that people are smarter. But is that true? We do not have a concrete answer today, but who knows, maybe we will in the near future. The best is yet to come!