New Ways for Teaching Children Software Programming

Howard Abrams (Joule Labs)
Emerging Topics
Location: Meeting Room J3
Average rating: ***..
(3.50, 8 ratings)

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.

Photo of Howard Abrams

Howard Abrams

Joule Labs

My first job in high school was teaching Basic and Logo programming to 8 year old kids. While I do mostly coding nowadays, I’ve gone back to elementary school to teach programming to the kiddies, and think it should be added to the standard curriculum.

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Comments

Mike Kenne
07/24/2009 6:16pm PDT

I was very impressed with what Howard was trying to do. I downloaded SCRATCH and started to think how it could be used by my Grandkids. I also think that there is a real opportunity to create and present this in a digital magazine form something like gamer magazine.

Picture of Sigurd Magnusson
Sigurd Magnusson
07/23/2009 5:13pm PDT

Thanks! I can now begin showing kids how to program – great to see what software is now available

Going to the session reminded me of the old DOS program “The Incredible Machine”—I would describe that as a fun way to solve programming-like challenges, applicable to teaching kids.

David Lundberg
07/22/2009 1:47pm PDT

The material presented was useful. BUT my time at OSCON is precious and the talk did not fill the allotted time. Also the speaker did not ask/take questions.

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