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Programming Education

Excite Kids To Code By Focusing Less On Coding 207

Posted by Soulskill
from the or-by-bribing-them-with-candy dept.
the agent man writes "The Hour of Code event taking place December 9-15 has produced a number of tutorials with the goal to excite 10 millions kids to code. It's really interesting to contrast the different pedagogical approaches behind the roughly 30 tutorials. The University of Colorado's 'Make a 3D Game' tutorial wants to excite kids to code by focusing less on coding. This pedagogy is based on the idea that coding alone, without non-coding creativity, has a hard time attracting kids who are skeptical of computer science, including a high percentage of girls who think 'programming is hard and boring.' Instead, the 'Make a 3D Game' activity has the kids create sharable 3D shapes and 3D worlds in their browsers, which they then want to bring to life — through coding. There is evidence that this strategy works. The article talks about the research exploring how kids get excited through game design, and how they can later leverage coding skills acquired to make science simulations. You can try the activity by yourself or with your kids, if you're curious."
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Excite Kids To Code By Focusing Less On Coding

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  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Saturday December 07, 2013 @09:16PM (#45630005) Homepage

    If you want people to get interested in programming, you have to show them something interesting they can do with it? *gasp*

    Personally I didn't get interested in programming because someone showed me how to do a for loop. I got interested because I could build games in ZZT or add my own cheat codes to gorillas.bas. (Those damn gorillas didn't stand a chance against my nuclear bananas.)

  • by Decker-Mage (782424) <jack_of_shadows@yahoo.com> on Saturday December 07, 2013 @11:24PM (#45630557)
    Simple answer? The best people at that kind of work are puzzle-people. The only differences I have detected over the last forty-five years is what knowledge domain they are best suited for solving problems in this manner. When they decide to enter the field, computer science or engineering or programming (coding), they face a curriculum that is seriously disconnected with their passion around reasoning out and solving problems. It's a one size fits all curriculum that winnows the wheat rather than the chaff.

    As with your example, I started when I was ten. My personal computer occupied the entire first floor of the Science building at the university. Everyone thought it was "cute" that someone so young was picking it up quickly. By the time I was 14 I was a teaching assistant and doing consulting. Back then, it was all about solving problems. That changed rather quickly over the next few years as the computer science, then computer engineering, even the set of courses within various departments were seriously over-subscribed. Then the curbs were brought in to reduce the number of successful candidates and to winnow out anyone except those who would tough it out. You also see this in pre-med and pre-law programs for the same reason.

    There's no easy fix either. They can yell up and down about a shortage of STEM graduates but until the systemic restrictions are centered about actually selecting people that are "the best and brightest," it isn't going to change. Meanwhile, "our global competitors" are about getting people through to the job market with what they need to know rather than equipped with knowledge that is useless in real-world problems.

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