Hour of Code exercises Link - https://code.org/learn/
There are a lot of hoops and traps to get past when setting up an IDE, and this can be a real turn-off for kids. I can remember when I was an early teenager trying to set up eclipse or flash builder. I really had no idea what I was doing, and I was either trying random things as if hacking away at forest brush with a machette or following along step-by-step with an online guide. It's tough for beginners, and it's a shame that most kids give up or are too afraid to start, and they never really get to the funs part of coding; deciding how to use the given api to build things, solving a problem to get the code working as you intended, or seeing something that you made run.
Since the "main" programming languages have these high learning curves, people have devised less intimidating languages like Blockly and Skitch. This past Saturday I was volunteering at a Teach Kids to Code - Hour of Code event at NYU. This had a link to this website, https://code.org/learn/
, which has different coding exercises using blockly. Here is a screenshot of one of the examples:
Each exercise has a different theme, and they are meant to be things that kids can relate to, in this case the theme is the movie Frozen. This makes it more interesting and engaging. Code blocks in the grey area are your choices to choose from, and the code in the white area is "the program". Notice how the blocks are connected which gives the impression that it's a sequence of instructions. The big orange Run button is similar to the Run button in eclipse that compiles and runs your code. Clicking the run button in the above exercise will make the girl in the image walk in the direction (with a cool automatic walking animation that I can appreciate as a web developer).
There's a very popular quote of Bill Gates saying, "Everyone should learn how to code because it teaches you how to think". I like that quote a lot, and I do believe there's some truth in it. These exercises are a great way for kids to experience the critical thinking and reasoning of coding without being bogged down by relatively clunky, boring, and expensive IDE's. It also gets them familiar with certain aspects of coding so that they will have an easier time when (if) they do decide to transition to eclipse, or some other IDE.
The posts on this site are written and maintained by Jim Lynch. About Jim...