January 26th, 2022
What is Block Coding?
Getting into programming and learning how to code can be a very daunting task, especially for children. There are a lot of complicated aspects and concepts that a young mind might have some trouble fully comprehending. But, because of the central role programming plays in today’s computerized world, learning to code is an essential life skill going into the future. But what is the solution to overly complicated programming languages? The short and simple answer is block coding.
Block Coding Defined
Block coding was developed as a very colourful and puzzle-like coding language that is much easier for children to understand and allows them to get introduced to programming. One particular language used for block coding is called Scratch, created by MIT. The core concept of Scratch is it’s about coding while having fun, creating artful video games and story-driven animations. Essentially, Scratch is about building pieces of art and interactive experiences that will serve as an essential baseline for developing more complex coding such as java, python, etc.
Regardless of the language, coding follows the same general programming logic, whether that be Java, Python, or block coding. The big difference, instead of seeing the huge syntaxes (which is what we call those long command lines), your children will be learning with very colourful blocks. They will design things of their interests in a very fast environment where the results will be shown right away. And debugging (solving issues with the code) is a lot simpler and more intuitive than using regular coding.
Block coding is all about teaching kids the most common syntaxes (or commands) like loops, repeats, if-then statements, and so much more! How to use sprites (movable graphic objects), operators and mathematical logic, and how it all works in a simple way. There are even interactive projects that you can create using the computer’s camera in games where the physical parts of the child can influence what happens in the game. Scratch and block coding overall are relatively limitless when it comes to what can be created.
Why Learn It?
Why is learning block coding necessary? The IT world is growing exponentially. IT jobs are always needed, and there aren’t enough professionals to fill the space. Facebook itself just announced that they are hiring over 10,000 new IT professionals to work on their products. Knowing to program is and will continue to be a high in-demand skill. That is why block coding is so important. Kids can start to understand the fundamentals of programming and get a leg up on life ahead of time. Even if they don’t go into programming, it can provide them with a sense of how everything in our modern computer world works. How the algorithms of Tik Tok and YouTube work. How our computers function. They can unearth what is going on behind the scenes and expand their knowledge.
Building games will expose the child to programming, creativity, artistic expression, animation, and so much more! You can also design short stories or full-fledged animated movies with block coding! The potential is limitless. With Scratch, children can also incorporate things such as phones, smart light bulbs, and other electronic devices into their programming and figure out how to bring different parts of their world together. Because coding is a crucial part of everything today, understanding the pieces of our world that fit together gives an edge over the general population. And it can all start with Scratch and block coding.
Where to Learn it
If you want to get your kid started on Scratch right away and open up their world to the possibilities, you can learn more about it on Scratch’s official website HERE. But if you aren’t sure where to start, or if the prospect seems a bit daunting and your child wants a one-on-one virtual or in-person learning experience, check out Coded Minds learning sessions HERE.
However you proceed, I hope you can give your child the opportunity to expand their mind and prepare themselves properly for the jobs of tomorrow.
Until next time,