What do programmers at NASA and seven year olds in a Computer Science classroom have in common? They both program in Python! In this blog post, our Program Leader Michael, a Computer Science teacher, shares his knowledge and experience teaching coding to young people.
Is Python accessible?
I’ve been teaching Python to school aged children for over six years, and seen first hand how ‘child-friendly’ and accessible the Python programming language is. It’s designed so that it reads as close to what a human understands instead of using complicated combinations of 0s and 1s and this makes it easy for kids to learn Python without a lot of experience.
No doubt the first programs a child will develop will be using a graphical based programming language such as Kodu or most likely Scratch. These are great tools for young people to learn the logical structure a programming language uses. Kids grasping this concept is what is most crucial to understanding how to be a programmer, and in some ways this way of thinking comes more natural to kids compared to adults who have never coded before.
Is Python easy for kids to get into?
Of course there are many programming concepts which will be beyond a seven year-olds understanding. But this doesn’t mean that they can’t start learning aspects of programming in Python such as sequencing, which is a good foundation for learning more intermediate topics as they progress in skill and age. Take a look at the below example, it’s a sequence of instructions to use a turtle icon to draw a square – notice how the instructions are intuitive.
This is similar to where Scratch programming is so successful, immediate visual feedback can be given to kids coding in Python too (as shown above) when writing code to draw a polygon or a letter for instance (in oppose to program which simply prints out lines of text) this supports engagement and further increases accessibility to the younger generation.
Another great feature when looking to encourage kids to take up Python is the wide range of libraries and other learning materials that can be used when looking for a particular feature. This keeps learning very flexible. For example, the microbit, an open source hardware ARM-based embedded system designed by the BBC for use in computer education in the United Kingdom, allows for Python (microPython) to be used whilst at the same time learning about physical computing in an engaging way.
In conclusion, Python is ideal for young enthusiasts as young as seven to learn because of the accessible nature of the programming language and the low barrier to entry which is supported by a plethora of resources such as the microbit which allow for great engagement in Python programming.
Learn to code with Fire Tech
Whether you’re a beginner or wanting to dive deeper into your Python knowledge and skills, we have four different courses for ages 9 to 17. Junior Python is for 9 to 12-year-olds and Teen Coding with Python, Teen Coding with Python II, and Teen Coding with Python – Build Amazing Projects for teens aged 13 to 17.