Tech Update - Kids in programming

By James (April 23rd, 2020) - This month’s Tech Update was written before lockdown and scheduled for release this week! We think it might be even more relevant today than we thought it would be back in March when he wrote it.

Does your child show an interest in computers? Would you like to help introduce them to programming? Maybe you want to know how you can help further their ability. These are all things we aim to help with right here.

Programming is a brilliant skill and giving your child a head start will benefit them in so many ways, to name a few:

  • Programming promotes methodical thinking and the ability to break down a problem into easily manageable pieces. By learning how to write programs you develop this ability which can easily be transferred to most situations.
  • Programming promotes mathematical and logical development as these are deeply rooted in computer science and the creation of software.
  • As we move even deeper into the digital age programming continues to become the language of the future. If everything is computer based then we will need people to control those computers. There is a wealth of jobs in computer science and in the future there will only be more, if your child can code they open a lot of doors for their future careers.

The best way to introduce your children to programming is through many of the online resources freely available such as Scratch, Codecademy, or Codewars.

Scratch

https://scratch.mit.edu/. Scratch is a very simple and easy to use software with a drag and drop tool, no actual writing of code is required making this the ideal platform for very young children.

Codecademy

https://www.codecademy.com/. Codecademy has a wealth of step by step tutorials that check your code as you work through the exercises. They have lots of free courses on a wide range of languages such as HTML and CSS, Java and Javascript. It is ideal for older children who are ready to begin coding properly.

Codewars

https://www.codewars.com/. Codewars is very similar to Codecademy in the way you write code and it checks for the correct output. This platform provides challenges ranging in difficulty for most modern programming languages. Once you have completed a challenge you are rewarded with points based on the difficulty and then you are ranked on leaderboards.

Three Quick Challenges

What next? Once you've had a play with the online tools you probably need to do some small projects to test your knowledge. Start simple and work upwards!

Here are three small project ideas:

  • A program that greets the user, asks for their name and then replies along the lines of "Nice to meet you [users name]".
  • Another idea that is a bit more difficult than the first is a simple four function calculator, it asks the user what operation they would like to do (add, subtract, multiply, divide) then for the two numbers they want to carry out the operation on and then it will display the result on the screen.
  • Finally a bit trickier still, an adventure game. This would work like an interactive story. For an example of how this might work have a look and play with Zork (http://textadventures.co.uk/games/play/5zyoqrsugeopel3ffhz_vq), one of the first adventure games ever written!

If you have a go at these and post your results on social media then feel free to tag us in the post! (FB:@epixsystems; LinkedIn:@epix-systems; Twitter:@EpixSystemsLtd - follow us below!)

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