Why We Should Be Teaching Kids to Code

Guest Contributor Celine Perea is the Instructional Technology Coach at Horizon Middle School in Aurora, Colo.

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While most kids were busy playing with apps, Nick D’Aloisio was busy developing them.

The 17-year-old British entrepreneur sold his popular news-reading app to Yahoo! in March for close to $30 million, and instantly became one of the world’s youngest self-made tech millionaires.

In February, Zora Ball presented her new app at the University of Pennsylvania’s Bootstrap Expo. At age 7, was proclaimed the youngest person ever to create an app.

Bubble Ball, an app created in 2012 by 14-year-old Robert Na, was downloaded more than two million times in its first two weeks. It was so successful that it briefly knocked Angry Birds out of the number spot of free downloads in the Apple app store.

image002It’s hard to deny that an aptitude for programming is a valuable tool for young people — and a fun skill to have, too. But there are still far too many kids who don’t have access to the information or resources they need to get started.

Mitch Resnick, an adult and director of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at MIT Media Lab, would like to change that. His group created the programming language environment Scratch, which makes learning code accessible even to very young students. In this Ted Talk from last November, Resnick makes a strong case that computer programming is no longer just for established computer whizzes:

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The issue isn’t whether we should teach coding, the issue is how are we going to accomplish it? Here are a few helpful resources along those lines:

? Scratch – This is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. It is provided free of charge. With Scratch, you can program your own interactive stories, games, and animations — and share your creations with others in the online community.

Although there are quite a few resources already on the Scratch website, here is some curricula for the older desktop version.

? A few other great resources for novice programmers: 40 Tools to Start Learning Coding as well as Code Academy.

? Game Design – Game Maker is a program where students can create casual and social games for, iOS, Android, desktop and the Web (HTML5). There are free (and paid premium) versions available for easy downlode.

? Free Game Design Curriculum for High Schools – Stemfuse is offering a full 18 week course, GAME:IT, free to high schools. It was developed for teachers, by teachers, and their site says that GAME:IT “contains everything needed to teach it, assumes no prior technical background by either teacher or student and is aligned with ALL applicable national and state CTE / STEM / Technology standards.”

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