Inspiring Young Coders


I have just been reading an article on the website of .net magazine about the nominees in the Young Developer of the Year category of the .net 2011 awards. There are 10 nominees in the list who are all aged under 21 and they have all been nominated for “making serious waves in the world of web development”. “The next Mark Zuckerberg might be among them.”

I thought this could be interesting to share with children in ICT lessons as a way of showing them that ICT can lead to a career and that many of the most successful people started learning at a very young age. On the site the 10 nominees are asked when they started developing websites. The majority of them all started between 8 and 12 years of age. One of the most interesting things is that they all claim to be self-taught – one even states that he didn’t do ICT at school.

This makes me think about some of the children I teach. I have some very talented children at my school and I know some of them are very interested in coding and programming. I want to be able to encourage these children to explore HTML further than the basics I already cover and then for them to feel free and confident to go beyond that into CSS, javascript etc. This means I need to provide resources, such as books and links, to help these children teach themselves as well as time. Luckily our school timetable has been changed for September and gives the children a 30 minute morning break (we are an independent school and the children are in until 7pm) for me to make the ICT room available for a coders club.

I might also try and get back into it myself and learn alongside them.

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4 thoughts on “Inspiring Young Coders

  1. I’ve been running a programming activity for the last year, alongside what we already cover in lessons. I found that the kids that signed up quickly split into two camps – those who wanted me to teach them how to “hack” (in the sense of breaking into computers), but weren’t prepared to actually put any effort into understanding the basics of programming, and those that were really keen on finding neat solutions and prepared to work.

    I don’t regard teaching kids to write HTML as rewarding or inspiring for either them or me; it’s not really coding, just marking up text to display it in a certain way. Scratch->PHP->Python has worked for me as a learning progression; I start Scratch in Year 5 IT lessons, then build up to PHP in Year 7/8. For those that are really keen in the programming club we’ve done some Python, though I’m thinking of introducing Ruby next year, possibly Rails too. I’ve got a couple of kids now who have taught themselves how to create simple database (mysql) front ends in PHP. If you’re interested, I’m all too happy to exchange ideas.

    1. Sounds great Adrian, I may well be in touch to pick your brain – any websites, books etc you would recommend to help support kids wanting to learn programming? Thanks for the comment

  2. A good place to start (though a little buggy on Windows) is with Hackety Hack – http://hackety-hack.com/ – which’ll guide kids through the basics of Ruby (ignore my post above – I meant we’ve done some Ruby, thinking of introducing Python instead, or moving onto Rails – I really should proof read before hitting send)

    I start our programming lessons outside – we have a rectangular pond which is also next to some flower beds laid out as a grid. I basically use it as a Turtle/LOGO playground but with one of the kids as the turtle (except I call it a robot). The kids being the robot love the idea of being as literal as they can be just to annoy their peers, so this game of outsmarting each other in who can be the most precise/literal starts up, and then they discover that they can’t remember more than about 5 instructions. Makes for a good intro to “be precise but economical” then grows into “conditional programming and loops”.

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