Bitsbox kit co-created by Scott Lininger to teach kids aged 7-11 to code. (via Bitbox)
Learning to code, teaching kids to code, teaching Obama to code, are all in the news recently as the campaign to keep code alive is continuing – spearheaded by MNC giants like Apple and Microsoft. This has always been a hot topic as the high-tech world continues to find new ways to engage a younger generation that will become the coders and engineers of the future.
While there are already programs out there to encourage more women and children to code, a few new projects have been released to target children in a younger age group: 7-11. The idea is that coding is a language and that kids should be exposed to coding alongside french and other languages when they're most susceptible to learning them. While that all seems to make sense from the standpoint of coding fanatics like former Google software engineer and co-creator of Bitbox, Scott Lininger, it may not be a shared viewpoint of parents and children.
The main issue is that coding is boring for kids, with a capital -B- and tons of exclamations. Programs like App Inventor for Android are successful, graphical ways of teaching kids about coding syntax and the structure of the language, but it fails to have them write actual code.
Lininger stresses how important having kids write out actual code is to their success in learning how to code. This is why he has released Bitbox, which plans to expand through a Kickstarter campaign. Currently, Bitbox is an online, game-like, interface that has children copying code line by line, which they can then upload to a tablet or mobile device (iOS or Android) and play with. The coding will create fun games that they can play. The idea is to get them excited by how easy it is to turn a bit of coding work into a fully formed game that they can enjoy. While not every child will feel motivated to continue coding all of the cool games on offer, the hope is to expose as many children as possible to coding at a young age to give them a head start. So far, they already have 70,000 users signed up and using Bitbox online.
The Kickstarter campaign will fund the release of a monthly Bitbox to kids with code for more than a dozen apps for them to build, trade-able coding cards and more. Each box will cost a subscription of $30 a month, or parents can buy one box for $40. The first boxes are expected to ship in April 2015. Stay tuned for the release of their Kickstarter.
Earlier this month, Hour of Code took place between December 8th to December 14th which is an initiative headed by Code.com and funded by giants including Apple and Microsoft. The project funded over 76,000 hour-long coding classes in US schools and also hosted over 100 live YouTube video chat with Hour of Code ambassadors including Bill Gates and Aston Kutcher.
Obama also participated by hosting an Hour of Code class at the White House where he became the first president to write a computer program: albeit a very simple and useless one.
These projects are the new kids on the block, trying to inspire the next generation of coders, tinkerers, and makers.
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