Art, science, ballet….and coding?!
It’s not news to anyone that the ability to code is an increasingly valuable skill in this tech-focused world. Juggling this obvious need with a packed schedule can be a complicated dance for parents. Many struggle with how to arm their children with the best skills while also allowing them time for creative endeavors.
MIT and Tufts released research showing how kids as young as 4 years old can learn very sophisticated computer science concepts if you get the mouse, keyboard and syntax (meaning “how code is written”) out of the way.
BK Bots founder, Sean Spillane, explains, that there are plenty of kids for whom, like himself, traditional creative outlets like art, poetry, singing, dance, etc. are not appealing.
Though it’s a generally held notion that computers will only accept one way to do things and therefore there’s a right and wrong way to write code, thus banishing creativity from the coding process, this is as for from the truth as you can get….
“With coding, there are an unlimited number of ways to write a program for any particular task,” said Spillane. This is where coding gets creative.
How is Coding Creative?
Problem solving: Coding requires students to problem solve in a very visual way. When writing a script, a common name for a short program, the physical layout and organization, spacing, indentation, even the names chosen as variables are all opportunities to leave a unique and creative imprint on your creation.
Visualization: More advanced coders create multiple small programs that pass data back and forth to each other in a beautiful dance of information sharing. Yes, they are just entering in characters and lines of text, but the result is a visual masterpiece, either on the screen or within the elegant movements of a robot they crafted, an LED light display they programmed or even just data that has been efficiently sorted and stored – the possibilities are endless!
Where To Start?
Like any language, kids can begin to learn coding at any age, and the earlier they start, the easier it will be for them to pick it up.
The emergence of block-based programming languages such as Scratch and the Lego Mindstorms software help nudge both children and their parents to start learning early. These programs were created to bypass the typing barrier to entry, encouraging students to begin coding as early as possible!
Sawyer co-authored this post with Sean Spillane, Founder of BKBots
Founder and lead instructor Sean Spillane is both an educator and mechanical engineer who designed each class to integrate the core tenets of STEM education with hands-on activities for a fun, educational curriculum.