Programming Languages and Kids’ Computer Coding

I was once had a talk with a junior colleague at the computer architecture lab saying that he got an offer from a company to be a programmer by using Perl and PHP programming languages. He asked me either he should accept it or not. Before answering the question, I asked him back on what was his favourite language and what was the languages he learned during his undergraduate studies. He told me that he had once taken the subject of C# and a number of web programming languages including the Coldfusion and CSS. Then I said to him, “Yes, you should go for it. You can do that job.” And he was like, “Really? What makes you think I can do that?”

Oh yeah, I was not so sure myself why I said that. I just don’t want him to lose the opportunity. So I said to him, “…Because C# is one of the most powerful tool in programming languages you know. It’s the extension of C++ and C and they are actually being used in many computer applications. Its structures, syntax and how the compiler works are the basis to most of other programming languages. So, I think once you understand on how to do programming with C-based languages, then you’re good with the rest of other programming languages.” …And yeah, he liked my answer. So he said, “Ok then. I’ll give it a try. I’ll send my full resume to the company. No harm in trying right?”

Well, definitely that was what I wanted to hear. To be honest, I am not sure myself on how the Perl and PHP works. Never had much experience on those. I got to learn Fortran, C++, GWBASIC and a couple of other programming languages but not those two. But the point is, if you’re given a lifetime opportunity, just go for it.

On the other hand, do you know that this phenomenon of learning the programming languages had already hit the school level and national educational curriculum? In fact, I think this had started since 1980s only that at that time the activities were more through the school clubs and not in the main subjects. However, time had gradually changed this environment and you can see that a number of countries had adopted the study on computer coding to the kids ever since their primary or elementary schools.

I once had a talk with a 10-year old girl asking her, “How many languages do you know?” A year before this she would answer, “I know 3 languages. Malay, English and Arabic.” But now, the answer is changing. She gave me this statement instead, “Well, I am learning Scratch coding right now, and I hope I can understand it so that I can do programming by using Python.” OMG. Now you see the different, right? If we instill the interest of learning programming languages when they were young, they would be happy to engage with it. It’s their era and learning how to do computer coding at an early age is certainly an advantage. This is because they have the enthusiasm, fresh mind and can be very creative. They can come up with numerous ways of problem solving and create many interactive programs by using their imaginations.

All right, now for this post I would like to highlight 10 programming languages that are suitable for the kids. There are more to this but some of them are still in testing mode and under development by their respective researchers and developers. These 10 computer coding applications were selected because they were making quite an impressive debut to the market and perhaps, kind of easy to learn by the children for their educational purposes.

slide11. Scratch – Developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Lab. This programming language has been adopted in the school syllabus in a couple of countries making it one of the popular computer coding application to the kids. It even has books being reprinted each year to complement its learning process and methodology. It is a freeware and can be downloaded at http://scratch.mit.edu/.

2. Tynker – This is another computer coding for kids that is making its way through the school syllabus. However, the participation is not as wide as Scratch but growing positively. The application is available at http://www.tynker.com/.

3. Swift Playgrounds -Developed by Apple Inc. Recently making its impressive appeal to the children because it is available through Apps Store and encourage on easy coding for developing Apple Apps and Games. Further information is available at http://www.apple.com/swift/playgrounds/.

4. KidsRuby – A Ruby-based programming language. It is also a freeware and can be downloaded at http://www.kidsruby.com/.

5. Blockly – Developed by Google Inc. It is block-based graphical language and further information is available at https://developers.google.com/blockly/.

6. Logo – This is one of the older type of programming languages. It has existed as early as the creation of microcomputers. However, it is still fun to learn doing coding with Logo. Recently, it has been extended to several other programming languages and this include the Turtle Logo. Website is at https://logo.codeplex.com/.

7. BASIC – This is also another early type of programming language ever existed in computing world. It has been redeveloped many times to other programming languages including Visual Basic, JAVA and etc. But learning from the BASIC is good knowing that history makes what with us today. Perhaps, to find the original version of programming with BASIC today is impossible but you can search for so many extension version of this programming language.

8. RoboMind – A Java-based programming language and aimed to simulate the robots. An integrated application it is and can be downloaded at http://www.robomind.net/.

9. Codemonster from CrunchZilla – It is using the JavaScript and can practice doing the coding through its portal. Try to have a look at http://www.crunchzilla.com/code-monster.

10. Snap! – This is another blocks-based graphical programming developed at the lab of University of California at Berkeley. Give it a try at http://snap.berkeley.edu/.

 

There you go. Know your language. Run in the right platform. Give your preference to your looks and feel. Understand the environment. Understand the needs of doing a programming. Write the problem. Solve it. Perhaps, one day you might want to design your own programming language.

 

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