Guest Post by: Afraz Syed (PhD in Artificial Intelligence) who is a computer science professor at Mohawk College. She is the founder of LET’S Create Academy (https://www.letscreateacademy.com/), which offers STEM based programs.
As we are moving forward towards a more digitally dependent and automated society, our kids’ learning characteristics and needs are changing accordingly. They are using technology in all aspects of life from socializing to playing and schooling.
They understand what technology options they have and how these options work, even sometimes better than us, adults. The next step is to involve them in creating this technology. Coding is one of the pivot aspects to develop tools, apps and technology.
Teaching how to code at an early age can truly set up the young minds for a lifetime of achievement. Even if they don’t pursue an exact computer science-related field, it gives them an advantage in almost every modern industry.
Fortunately, there are several easy ways to learn coding languages. Some of them are discussed below:
Scratch: Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. It is available for free as a coding tool and an online community at https://scratch.mit.edu/.
It is a visual programming language with a block-based, drag and drop interface. Kids can make their games, animations and interactive stories, and share with others in the online community. They can start scratch coding as early as 7 years of age.
Alice: Alice programming tool is a research project of Carnegie Mellon University, the latest version; Alice 3 is free to download from https://www.alice.org/.
Alice uses block-based, drag and drop interface, which makes it easy to create interactive narratives, animations and simple games in 3D. Kids can start developing their skills in object-oriented programming using Alice. The recommended age to start Alce is 7-8 years. One great advantage of learning Alice is its gradually incremented complexity for different ages and finally transformation to an advanced and rather difficult programming language “Java”.
Python: Python can be a good choice for pre-teen to teen coders. This is a high level, general-purpose programming language. The popularity of python programming is growing because of its simple syntax yet suitability for powerful applications. The latest version of python is free to download from the official website https://www.python.org/.
HTML and CSS: HTML and CSS is a great combo for developing websites. HTML is a markup language used to define the structure of the webpages, whereas CSS is used to style those pages. Both are pretty easy to learn for ages 11 and up. There are several source code editors and tools for HTML and CSS. One of the most popular is Notepad++. It is free to download from https://notepad-plus-plus.org/.
Julie Diamond is a certified teacher in Canada and the founder of Teachers to Go.
Julie Diamond speaking at the OISE conference for Alternative, Innovative and Inspiring Career Paths for Teachers at the University of Toronto.
Jenna Srigley is the administrative assistant/social media co-ordinator at Teachers to Go and offers invaluable insight as a mom of 2 teens.
Fun Fact: Her and Julie (see above) are also sisters :)