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Education Programming

Programming — Now Starting In Elementary School 162

the agent man writes "The idea of getting kids interested in programming in spite of their common perception of programming to be 'hard and boring' is an ongoing Slashdot discussion. With support of the National Science Foundation, the Scalable Game Design project has explored how to bring computer science education into the curriculum of middle and high schools for some time. The results are overwhelmingly positive, suggesting that game design is highly motivational across gender and ethnicity lines. The project is also finding new ways of tracking programming skills transferring from game design to STEM simulation building. This NPR story highlights an early and unplanned foray into bringing game-design based computer science education even to elementary schools."
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Programming — Now Starting In Elementary School

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  • by phaserbanks ( 1977290 ) on Sunday May 20, 2012 @03:27PM (#40058523)

    Yup. Started BASIC in 3rd grade at public elementary school in Tampa. Fast forward today: I asked my son what they do in his computer class, and he said "we made a song in Garage Band". WTF

  • by EmagGeek ( 574360 ) <gterich AT aol DOT com> on Sunday May 20, 2012 @03:47PM (#40058613) Journal

    I started teaching myself Fortran in 7th grade when I got my Ham Radio license and heard that it was the program of choice for modeling Antennas. Of course, I was not aware of this whole calculus thing, so I couldn't actually write my first antenna modeling program until 8th grade after my dad taught me calculus over the summer.

    Math is another subject we seriously need to accelerate. High School just doesn't teach enough Math, even in AP. High school graduates pursuing STEM degrees need to have a firm grasp of Vector Calculus and Differential Equations by the time they get to college. Too many entry level classes are non-calculus based because of this problem, and are therefore a waste of time.

    We can do better.

  • by whizbang77045 ( 1342005 ) on Sunday May 20, 2012 @03:51PM (#40058625)
    Society seems to treat programming as though it were something mystical. In fact, it is simply learning how to think and express oneself logically, using a very basic (no pun intended) language. How is this different than learning how to read and write English effectively? We expect too many things to be hard, so we make them hard by our attitudes.
  • by RichMan ( 8097 ) on Sunday May 20, 2012 @03:58PM (#40058661)

    Programming is not special. Programming is the literacy of problem solving.
    Facing a required task and then using known tools to construct a method the achieve the required task in logical steps.

    There should be less emphasis on "programming" and more on general problem solving. Learning the general method is better than learning the specific method until you need to become as master of the specific method.

    Programming can be one aspect of teaching problem solving because programming is very structured. However problem solving skills in general need to raised a lot higher than general grade school level before real programming can be done.

  • by steelyeyedmissileman ( 1657583 ) on Sunday May 20, 2012 @04:06PM (#40058703)

    Seriously-- there's no reason we shouldn't be teaching Algebra from the *very beginning*. I mean, come on.. what's the difference between 1 + _ = 2 and 1 + x = 2? You're figuring out the exact same thing!! The only reason I can think that we can't introduce Algebra from the start is that it scares the heck out of the teachers.

  • by TemperedAlchemist ( 2045966 ) on Sunday May 20, 2012 @04:22PM (#40058787)

    The problem isn't that we don't teach them algebra soon enough, it's that we don't teach them how to think (read: at all). It's not that mathematics doesn't teach people how to think, it does. But only in some kind of sneaky way, and people are assumed to have great logical deduction abilities like it's some inherent intuitive concept. But it doesn't work that way.

    Unless you attended a rich and large high school, chances are your exposure to any level of logic is nil. Why is it only philosophy majors are the ones forced to take informal logic (and not even very much at that)? The only way you actually get an adequate exposure to formal education in rational thinking is if you're a logician.

    But really I'm just deluding myself, who wants a workforce that knows how to think?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20, 2012 @04:53PM (#40058943)

    Alright, you make some good points, but I'd argue that manufacturing jobs are leaving center stage anyway.

    Look around, we build factories that require a tenth of the labor they used to. We build entire shipping centers that are more or less automated. I'm not sure that we really need manufacturing anymore. If anything China is serving as an excellent stop-gap to ease the transition to a much different kind of society.

    I mean, when you get down to it, the problem is really that the amount of product per single skilled worker in a modern, automated factory is so large, that there quite frankly isn't a demand for the entire population to be employed. China has cheap labor now, but machines will become cheaper, and at that point the only thing left is engineering.

  • by RightwingNutjob ( 1302813 ) on Sunday May 20, 2012 @06:03PM (#40059225)
    Lack of funding my ass. There's plenty of money to spend of laptops and HD projectors and electronic whiteboards and new sets of math textbooks with new sets of politically correct glossy pictures every other year. It ain't the money, it's the lack of an adult in the room to decree that it's the math that's important, not the glossy pictures. My dad showed me his 5th grade algebra textbook from 1950's Soviet Russia. The size of a DVD case, not a single picture, but all the math you need to learn in a simple package. And it probably would cost $20 to write, fact-check, print and distribute here in today's dollars.
  • by JonySuede ( 1908576 ) on Sunday May 20, 2012 @06:45PM (#40059387) Journal

    Logo's better than you think.

    It is a scheme like language:
          world model --> initial environment
          procedure level -> nested environment
          turtles --> thread environment

    It revolves around a built-in actor model funnily named turtles.
    An implementation of a multithreaded logo interpreter is trivial because of that.

    If Logo was compiled to byte-code or machine code using a modern compiler it would be a competitive language assumed it had a decent library or the capability to call to other languages transparently.

C makes it easy for you to shoot yourself in the foot. C++ makes that harder, but when you do, it blows away your whole leg. -- Bjarne Stroustrup