Computer science is a field that most adults consider complicated, hard to understand, or boring, so imaging teaching it to a child while also making it fun? It could seem like an impossible job, but educators have realized about all the benefits of teaching code to kids:
- Coding promotes logical thinking, teaches them how to tackle complex problems by breaking them into smaller ones.
- Boost their creativity and helps them come up with their own ideas in order to solve the problems.
- Improve their math skills.
- They develop resilience, if the first solution doesn’t work they keep trying until finding one that does.
As you can see, there are many benefits to learning computer science besides knowing how to program a computer. kids are usually receptive to learning new things, you just have to make the process interactive and fun. If you want your kid to fall in love with computer coding follow these tips.
Stem toys are science, technology, engineering, and math-based toys created towards promoting the curiosity and learning of kids. They focus on disciplines such as coding, engineering, chemistry, etc. A coding toy will teach your child how to code, or at least the basics of computer science, programming, and algorithm thinking in a fun and engaging way while promoting creativity and love for coding.
One of the best examples of a coding toy is Lego Mindstorm which is a hardware and software structure that allows the development of programmable robots based on lego building blocks.
All the game versions come with an intelligent brick computer that controls the system, a set of modular sensors and motors, as well as lego parts to create the mechanical system. Kids can program them to walk, talk, and code their own remote-control features for the robots. The models are pretty easy to build and kids will learn the basic programming knowledge that goes into creating a robot.
Kiwico projects is a monthly subscription service that offers kid’s DIY projects in different areas such as science, art, and engineering. They offer kits for the coding area, all include the materials, instructions, and explanations on how it works, all of their projects have lots of possibilities to stimulate problem-solving skills and enhance creativity. The kid will learn the basic concepts behind programming by making his own programs through puzzles and games. Some of the activities include: creating and decorating your own robot, creating a robot rabbit with a customizable path to run along, write programs to solve puzzles, etc.
While Kiwico is a subscription service you can also find similar STEM projects on Amazon such as the solar car shown below. Feel free to click on the link for pricing info and to find similar products.
If your kid loves Minecraft, then he would probably love LearnToMod, an online software that has hundreds of self-paced coding tutorials to allows them to create mods, kids can create great elements such as monsters or powerful armors. Codakid is similar software that offers text-based coding through Minecraft modding with Java.
If you or your kid hasn’t played Minecraft it’s a very creative game to challenge their ability to gather resources and create things. Minecraft has 100s of mods to add to the complexity of the game to create very complicated logic based systems and you can even code in the game with Mods like Computer Craft. For more advanced coding exercises you and your kid can also create your own mods together using the Java coding language.
Code.org is an online tool, it has a free code studio program with hundreds of block-based courses and activities to do, it includes free tutorials about popular movies such as frozen or Moana, so kids can create stories and program their favorite characters. It also includes a section for parents on the importance of teaching programming to your kid.
Scratch is a programming language developed by MIT that uses block-based coding to create interactive stories, games, and animations, children can create a party for dancing animals, a story about a group of dogs, an app designed to bake a cake, children can create a beautiful story in just a few minutes. Besides learning how to code, the kid will also develop cognitive and social skills, learn sequencing skills, how to organize their thoughts. and integrate creativity into their projects.
Raspberry Pi Projects
The Raspberry Pi is an affordable and tiny computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV and uses a standard keyboard and mouse. This tiny device allows people of all ages to explore the world of computing science and learn how to program in languages such as scratch and python.
You can build a computer with a Raspberry Pi device, plugging a set of peripherals USB, install software called Linux distribution, then install word processors, spreadsheets, and a calculator. It is not going to be a high-tech computer, but your kid will love to complete easy assignments on a computer that he built.
Set up the device with a Python enabled operating system and you will be able to access modules where you can interact with USB weather stations and check the week’s weather.
You can set up the device with scratch to create several games and enjoy the experience of creating software in your own mini-computer.
Google code-in is an open contest for 13 to 17 years old pre-university students about open source software development, and you don’t need any previous knowledge about coding to participate in the contest, the process is simple: organizations who participate in Google code-in will post a set of tasks in different fields besides coding, they can be about communication, research, marketing, etc. The student selects a task and claims it, he or she will have at least 3 days to work on it and can ask about it to mentors, once the participant finishes the task it is time to submit it for review. The mentors will evaluate, give some feedback, and decide whether they can accept it or request more work.
Every student that completes at least 1 task will get a digital certificate, for 3 tasks or more a t-shirt. In the end, each organization will choose 5 finalists and each one of them will win a hoodie. But the best part is that out of those 5 finalists, 2 will be selected as the Grand prize winners and will win a trip to the Google headquarters with one of their parents. This will an excellent motivation to learn more and improving the coding skills.
Follow these tips and your kid will love to learn about computer science!