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New Tool for Teaching Kids to Code

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNIM1fzJ8u0[/youtube]

Intro to computer science just became Harvard’s most popular freshman class, outpacing economics, the campus paper reports. At Stanford, computer science is the #1 major.

Yet in most K-12 classrooms, the subject is rarely taught. To change that equation, Code.org, a nonprofit whose mission is to get more kids to learn programming, has launched Code Studio — a set of tools, lesson plans, and curriculum to help students in kindergarten through high school explore the underlying concepts behind coding.

Instead of learning a language such as Java or Python, as they would in an Advanced Placement or college course, students manipulate blocks of logic that, if properly sequences, will draw a shape or move a character. There are three new courses for elementary-age kids and an hour lesson in computer coding basics that uses Angry Birds. A teachers’ dashboard allows easy tracking of student progress.

Code Studio’s interface is similar to MIT’s Scratch, but uses HTML5 and thus can run in most browsers, and there are puzzle-based lesson plans.

Meanwhile, another effort to expand the ranks of aspiring young computer scientists and engineers just received the first TechCrunch Include Grant of $50,000. Black Girls Code seeks to turn women, particularly young women of color, into producers rather than consumers of technology through a series of after-school workshops and summer camps that blend computer science with art, media, engineering, and other disciplines.

 

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