29 Jul 2011

Raspberry Pi for Coding Kids

I came across a couple of great resources for teaching programming over the past week, and I thought I would share them with you.

Link to Teaching Kids Programming WebsiteThe first is Teaching Kids Programming (TKP).  I came across this after it was brought up by Llewellyn Falco in the latest Herding Code podcast (the discussion on TKP comes in the last 10 minutes of the podcast, but I would recommend any one who programmes listen to the entire podcast).   TKP provides courseware and guidelines for teaching children how to program on their website.  The various lesson plans introduce kids to programming concepts using the Small Basic, SQL programming, and visual programming using Kodu.  The various tasks in the lesson plans (known as recipes) are fun and engaging, and can range from teaching SQL using a dating database populated with movie stars to introducing object oriented programming via a program to generate pictures of flowers.

The second programming resource was the Raspberry Pi Foundation.  This is a new charity that is developing an ultra-low-cost computer, for use in teaching computer programming to children.  The charity’s initial aim is to distribute an ARM Linux box for $25.  Yes, $25!  The charity was setup by a number of developers who had initially cut their teeth coding on BBC Micro computers, and who despaired at the teaching of programming in UK schools.  It is certainly more affordable than the latest geek chic toy, Arduino.

I’m pretty excited about the future of programming.  Whilst there may be currently a lack of developers in Northern Ireland, and the current scheme to encourage children here to consider a career in IT is poor, resources like TKP and Raspberry Pi are great ways to encourage kids to develop an interest in programming as a career.  Coupled with the One Laptop Per Child initiative, I can see a whole new generation of programmers coming into being.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure if many children from Northern Ireland will be part of it.