Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Kids and programming

After reading Scott Hanselman's article about how to teach kids computer programming, I once more decided to try to get my children interested in the topic that has brought me so much fun and joy.

The kids are now around 11 years old, and all enjoys playing games, doing homework and surf the web on their computers. They are creative, and can spend an evening creating images in MS Paint or making a presentation in Powerpoint.

I've previously tried to get them interested in programming using tools like KPL, but the big problem was learning the syntax. They're not yet able to learn enough statements or commands to express themselves and solve abstract problems in a textual programming language.

I went along and grabbed a copy of MIT's Scratch, which is a graphical tool for building small 2D games and animations:

Scratch uses a visual representation of statemements, variables and control blocks, and this really worked out for them. They quickly learned how to set up a small loop that tested for collisions with other objects, and that could send messages to all the other sprites making interesting things happen (like getting the sun to appear in the sky)

Allthough it is not possible to build fully fledged games in Scratch, it seems like a great tool to learn the basics of programming like I once learned on my Dragon 32 from my father (yes, we still have the old Dragon, allthough we haven't booted it up for a while).

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