I have been working with my sons’ elementary school classes for the last 3 years and have taught both classes how to write basic programs in Scratch. They can all use loops, ifs, variables, and lists to make games and class projects. It was cool to see many of them use Scratch to create their end of year projects last year. I am positive that many of the students in these classes will consider a career in Computer Science as they all feel very confident about the subject. Having working on numerous math concepts with my sons, I also feel these students now view mathematics in a totally different way after learning Computer Science concepts at an early age. Working with students when they are in the early grades is very important as it helps to reach them before they develop any bias towards a subject often perceived as difficult.
As I am a big fan of Scratch, I had to post a link to Google’s new Blocky language. I have not spent much time with it yet, but it looks great. Any language that has a Maze solver example posted as a demo has to be cool!
I have posted about how everybody needs Comp Sci skeelz numerous times, but here is another link to another article discussing the same idea.
Learning how to solve a problem computationally is a really cool process and that experience will help students in many different ways. How could it hurt? Many of my students will get jobs or start companies that rely on computing power to conduct their everyday business. Knowing a bit more about how these systems work and how they were built is a good thing. Having the knowledge to build your own system or tell someone else how to build what you want is very useful.
Teaching students basic content early seems to me to be the best way to get kids hooked and interested so that they will continue on and gain the skeelz they will use and need for life. Elementary school is the place to start and there are many tools you could use to get the ball rolling. Scratch is one that works great!
Computer Science skills can be learned at any age. I have been going to my sons’ elementary school for the last 3 years at least twice a year, teaching their classes how to create games, animations, and stories. I have taught them how to use variables, loops, ifs, and lists using Scratch. All of the boys and girls in each class love it when I come out and they use the skills to create projects throughout the year. These students all think CS is cool and will have no problem taking Computer Science classes in the future as they are comfortable with the concepts and idea of writing programs. I hope that I have successfully planted the seeds for a whole crop of future Computer Scientists.
This article discusses the same idea of starting students in Computer Science early and makes some of the same points.
AP Summer Institute #3 is history.
I had a huge group in Houston from all over the US.
The workshop started on July 18th and ran for four days.
The Region Center in Houston always has great food.
We covered tons of material, including Scratch, Jeroo, GridWorld, and lots of Java.
We discussed teaching with Codes and Ciphers, teaching List Processing using multiple environments, and using GridWorld games like Sliding Puzzle to teach Object-Oriented Programming.
Attendees came all of the way from Ohio, Arkansas, Texas, and Massachusetts. All sorts of folks attended, including an Astronomer, Fortran Programmer, and multiple former Disney employees. It was a great group of people and it was nice to get to know them all.
I am currently conducting an AP SI in Fayetteville, Arkansas at the University of Arkansas.
See all of my workshop dates and available materials.
Follow my travels across the US to my workshops via my son’s travel blog.
My AP Summer Institutes are under way.
The June 6-9 workshop in Houston, Texas was a blast.
We covered tons of material, including Scratch, Jeroo, Alice, GridWorld, and lots of Java.
The food and conversations were great!
It was fun to meet people from all over and make some new friends.
Get your bird bot for only 99.00!
You can crank robot code in Java or in Python.
It sounds like Scratch will be an option later on down the road.
This looks pretty cool!
Game Programming is very popular and many high schools offer some type of Computer Science course that includes a bit of game programming. Scratch can be used to teach some basic game programming as can Kodu. Unity is another great tool for 3D game programming that now will run on Android. I teach quite a few games in my AP CS A class using GridWorld and Java Graphics with a bit of GUI. I have used GameMaker a few times with mixed results. Also, C# and XNA work great for game development and there are lots of materials readily available for free – check Alfred’s Blog. Pygame is great and allows you to create some really nice games using Python. The options for game programming are numerous and games really do get students excited and motivated about learning Computer Science.
This is really cool and just makes Scratch even more fun to use.
This blog post has been flying around the SIGCSE and AP lists this past week, but I wanted to post a link to it again. This is a great post and one that we all need to read.
Everyone needs to understand how to write a bit of code. In order to truly create or innovate, everyone need the basic skill of code writing. If we are going to remain a nation of innovators, we need to teach kids how to “crank code” as these skills are often used to help cool ideas take root.
My sons are both in elementary school and are learning to write code in Scratch. They will transition to languages like Python and Java when they are ready, but they are already learning fundamental Computer Science concepts like decision-making, iteration, and list processing that will enable them to create and innovate later.