When I was in primary school I was awarded with a programming course. This course was a pilot program that some visionary people were working on. Back then we programmed a few things mostly little routines and some games in a language called Basic. Although at the moment I didn’t know it, that experience would change my life.
In our last class I ended up with a turtle race program. This cute pixelated turtle was the character that you as the creator of its movements would have to control. The turtle became the subject that the instructors used to teach us about logic interactions and algorithms. All the actions we then converted into code.
In middle school I stealthily opened my uncle’s computer without him knowing about it 🙂
I just wanted to know what the computer on which I was playing games and doing homework was made of.
Later on, while in High School, I was already assembling my own computers and teaching myself how to program first in Pascal and then in C. In retrospect I see how my previous experiences have helped me first into thinking about how to program, and then in the logistics of how to abstract things into code.
We live surrounded by computers
In todays world we live surrounded by computers. We carry them in our pockets, some on our wrists and soon with the explosion of the Internet of Things they will be in every room of our workplace and home.
It’s important for the next generation to understand that there is no magic in these boxes. That they could choose to adapt them, interact with them and program them, group them and create new applications on top of them.
There are initiatives to create tools where kids can learn about programming while playing. Just like I did.
One of them is the Kano Computer.
A mini computer based on Raspberry pi that kids can assemble by themselves just like they already do with Lego.
It comes with applications where kids can interact, create and program their own worlds.
Using popular games like Minecraft and an interface based on Scratch which in essence is like programing with Lego blocks.
Scratch helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively — essential skills for life in the 21st century.
They also can share their creations with other kids and get points solving some fun challenges.
My 5 year old is getting a kick out of it and it’s helping with his ability to recognize words. Mainly Minecraft related words like stone, wood, water and other materials. He goes through the challenges and if he gets stuck then he calls us in to help.
It’s fun! He creates rivers of lava or water. Castles, caves and towers. Half time programming and half time freestyling.
At the moment he’s allowed to play once a week and it makes his father proud challenge after challenge.