Coding for Kids
I was talking to my 11 year-old nephew last weekend and he told me about the applications he was creating with Scratch (and then shared them, which were pretty good). Scratch is a language developed at the MIT Media Lab for kids (and it’s free). My nephew learned about this through some classes presented at his school via Code.org.
I was pleased to hear that so many kids are learning to code at a young age—and liking it. Scratch seems straight forward with enough power to let kids be very creative. My nephews were already interested in development due to the Minecraft game, but now they (and their friends) are doing more with Scratch.
This is a million times better than my first programming experience. My Dad had been a programmer at Brunswick, building the first automatic bowling scoring application. This was developed on an IBM mainframe using punch cards. He showed me how it worked and let me input some cards into the mainframe. It was kind of fun, but it also seemed very difficult. Years later, I spent my hard-earned money on a Commodore 64. It was also fun to use and a great machine for learning, but also not that easy.
One of the most useful classes I took in high school, typing, was not required. It became a foundation for lots of other work. I supposed I could have learned this later and I think most people kind of pick this up, but it was better learning the skill at a young age. That goes for many other areas; whether it’s music, skiing, or cooking, the earlier you learn the better.
Given the importance of software in the future, it seems that this instruction should be mandatory, but I’m glad that there are so many of these types of classes becoming available. MIT has created a site that makes it easy for instructors to teach this to students of all levels. They just had the global Scratch Day on May 17, but there are events worldwide where parents could bring their kids to learn about coding.
In addition to Scratch, there are programs like Hopscotch and Tynker that kids can use to code. I went through the sites and both seem very straight-forward. Hopefully lots of kids will be learning to code and when they do please consider bringing them to some of the AT&T Hackathons!
Let us know in the comments below if there are other fun and useful sites kids can visit to learn how to code. We’d love to hear about them.