Getting Kids Into Programming

It's well known that there's a continually growing, global need for high tech labor.  And as the world's residents become further dependent on technology, the technological environment itself is increasingly demanding humanity to become ever more flexible for adapting to new technologies.  One small contribution that each of us can make - specifically those of us with kids - is to help prepare the next generation for gaining confidence in technology and learning a bit about our craft in the process.

Accordingly, I've been trying to find a suitable means of teaching my 7-year old daughter how to gain an interest in programming...she's been hooked on what I found.  Scratch is a free, visual programming "language" and IDE that makes it very simple to create animations, simple games, and art and to share them in on the web.  It was developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten group at MIT Media Lab.  It has a very easy to follow Getting Started guide for young ones and can be used to create some relatively sophisticated programs.

If nothing else, it's a good way to geek out with your kids.

Enjoy!
Billy McCafferty


Posted 09-01-2009 11:46 AM by Billy McCafferty
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Comments

Ryan Riley wrote re: Getting Kids Into Programming
on 09-02-2009 9:34 AM

Too bad _why pulled <a href="github.com/.../master">Hackety Hack</a>. It looked quite fun and promising. Have you taken a look at <a href="alice.org/.../a> I haven't used any of these, but Scratch and Alice always seem to be at the forefront of people's minds.

Martin W wrote re: Getting Kids Into Programming
on 09-02-2009 10:01 AM

Well, sometimes I get the feeling this is somewhere near the level of programming some of my colleagues can just about grasp... :(

Billy McCafferty wrote re: Getting Kids Into Programming
on 09-02-2009 10:25 AM

@Ryan, thanks for the suggestions, I'll check those out as well.

@Marin, that's hilarious...certainly know the feeling.

Jeff Klawiter wrote re: Getting Kids Into Programming
on 09-02-2009 11:34 AM

I've found Microsoft's Small Basic (http://www.smallbasic.com)  to be a really good way to teach the basics of programming that are applicable beyond the language. Many programmers began programming in some form of BASIC.

Things like Scratch are a good way for someone to learn how to create a sequence of events but what happens when they want to add new things? Encapulate actions?

Billy McCafferty wrote re: Getting Kids Into Programming
on 09-02-2009 12:04 PM

As you implied, Scratch is certainly better for elementary programming concepts such as control, flow, and rudimentary condiationals.  Small Basic sounds like a great next step.

Sosh wrote re: Getting Kids Into Programming
on 09-04-2009 5:52 AM

It's a pity there isn't more programmable physical stuff these days (for younger kids).  Remember 'Bigtrack'?  Ok not really programming, but in that direction.

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