New Ways for Teaching Children Software Programming

*
Accepted Session
Short form
Scheduled: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 from 3:50 – 4:35pm in Burnside

Excerpt

Software programming has come a long way for students and younger children since the days of Logo. Syntax has been replaced with connecting blocks and the triangle turtle has been replaced with custom artwork children create themselves. Now, multi-threading and event processing are easier to teach children than functions, and this session discusses these ideas as well as so the edge of kid code.

Description

Software programming has come a long way for students and younger children since the days of Logo. Syntax has been replaced with connecting blocks and the triangle turtle has been replaced with custom artwork children create themselves.

Other changes include the assumptions we make when teaching children to program. For instance, multi-threading and event processing are easier to teach than functions.

While computers are ubiquitous in children’s lives, how much of using computers is being transferred into training computers? And does programming offer something beyond the utility to something akin to re-enforcing the academic and problem-solving skills taught in school?

This session discusses the new crop of kid-friendly programming languages as well as how best to teach them. This includes:

  • Etoys
  • Alice
  • Scratch

The session focuses on Scratch, as the best interface for teaching younger children, but also shares a teacher’s perspective of what works and what doesn’t work and how the open source community can help create a (potentially new) environment helpful to both students and their teachers.

Speaking experience

Speaker

  • Self portrait square

    Biography

    While other kids were flipping burgers, my first job in high school was teaching Basic and Logo programming to 8 year old kids. During college, I launched my first startup in my basement with a pile of circuits (Has it really been 20 years?).

    I’m in the process of launching another startup dealing with renewable energy, but I’ve also gone back to elementary school to teach programming to the kiddies (it should be added to the standard curriculum).

    Sessions