03 December 2014

How to write code: Kid edition

I was recently asked to do some research on how to teach an 8-year old about mobile app development. This made me happy on a bunch of levels. This kid is interested in something that is pretty complicated for adults. And she’s a girl. Not to go into gender issues here, but this fact made me even happier. Women in STEM are still so grossly under-represented it is ridiculous.

But I digress….

Coding for kids! I compiled this list for one person and thought… well… this is good information for everyone! Even if you are an adult, these are some great sites to get starting with writing your first “Hello World”. If you have no idea what I am talking about, you will find out very soon. Trust me.

  • Code.org: They have a bunch of free tutorials online that are geared to kids (8+) and beginners. They teach a basic programming language that will get her started on basic programming concepts like logic statements and loops. They also sponsor an Hour of Code, which is a world-wide, recurring event that is a one-hour introduction to computer science and coding. Teachers can set up local live events. You may want to ask your school if they have an event set up.

  • Tynker: This is like code.org (above) but it looks more kid friendly and is not free.

  • Scratch: This is a really cool, graphic way of creating games and animations. Sort of like Logo (from the 80s, it was the program with the turtle that you could program to move around the screen and draw things), but more fun and modern looking. You can get started right away; there are tips and instructions on the right-hand side of the page, so you can work through the instructions and create something right away. They have a number of tutorials on the site too.

  • Code Avengers: This site is great for learning web development (HTML and CSS). The level 1 courses for HTML/CSS and Javascript are both free, but they do charge for the level 2 and 3 courses.

  • Team Treehouse: This is a guided tutorial on creating iOS (iPhone) apps. This is probably a little more adult / advanced, but it looks like a good one. I strongly recommend that you have a basic understanding of programming concepts first.

  • Kano: This is a kit that you can buy that let’s you assemble a (small, simple) computer yourself. It uses a Raspberry Pi, so you can expand this pretty easily as well if you want.