One of the great things about learning to program computers is the wide variety of applications. From Bluetooth devices in our vehicles to applications on our mobile phones, adults can see the infusion & continuous evolution of technology everywhere. As Digital Natives, kids can sometimes take technology for granted because they haven’t known a time when there wasn’t a smart phone or tablet within arm’s reach. However, the ease of consumption with modern day technology creates an environment where kids may not understand that they too can make really cool things with code. Below are a few examples of what kids can do if they learn how to program computers with code.
1. Video Games
| Whether on the Wii, Xbox, Playstation or computer, we all know that kids love to play video games. Behind every video game, there is a team of developers and designers who help bring these games to life. In fact, there are some popular video games which are estimated to have millions of lines of code
. These games are extremely complex and can require from 6 months to 2 years of development time depending on the type and quality. While most kids will not start off making games that require such a large of investment of time, there are platforms such as Scratch
& Construct 2.0
that break down the process into manageable chunks that enable them to accomplish the basics of algorithm design and engineering logic in as little as an hour.
2. Minecraft Mods
| Minecraft is one of the most popular games in the world. In fact, since launching the game in 2009, there have been over 100 million copies sold
. It is estimated that over 40 million people play the game each month. One of the coolest things about Minecraft is that in addition to being a really awesome game, it enables players to peek under the hood at the Java code and further modify & customize the game. Kids really love the concept that one of their favorite games isn’t static but they can change variables and lines of code to change the game in ways that are only limited by their imagination.
|While kids don’t always interact with robots on a daily basis, they are fascinated by the ability to make a piece of hardware follow their instructions. Many kids first exposure to electronics hardware is through remote controlled cars, helicopters, fitness trackers, and drones. Similar to video games, these hardware devices were pre-programmed by a team to repeatedly carry out a specific task. In the case of a remote control car, it is moving forward/reverse and turning right/left as long as the car is within range of the remote. While super cool, sometimes kids want to get the experience of making their own device move forward/reverse. Thankfully, there are many great platforms such as Lego Robotics
, Vex Robotics
for these kids to experiment with. The great thing about robotics is that they can program their robots & see how they perform in real-world conditions. From uneven surfaces to obstacles, kids begin to understand that they must account for all sorts of boundary conditions in order to get their robots to perform as intended.
While there are several other examples of what kids can build with code and several permutations within these categories, we believe the most important lesson is that kids should connect the dots between their tech-powered world and their role in creating the next wave of innovation.