Learning to code: Where to start

With all the recent STEM activities I have been involved with and blogged about, I have been asked to write some posts around how someone can start learning to code.

The school curriculum covers an element of coding with some subjects, and pupils may be lucky to get a BBC Micro:bit or Raspberry Pi, however you don’t have to wait until school before learning any coding.

You don’t have to be young to start coding either. Using the same methods and tools anyone can learn to code.

The phrase “Learning to code” may strike fear and thoughts of hundreds of lines of text and numbers, but it doesn’t need to. There are lots of websites available to help people start to code and present a fresh way of learning to code.

So where to start…….. If you’re reading this blog then you have access to a computing device. All you need to get started is a computing device with a web browser and access to the internet.

At this stage, its not worth getting hung up on the choices of the many different languages out there such as Python, Java, C etc, but concentrating on some fundamentals of coding.

Depending if you like Minecraft, Star Wars, Dr Who or Frozen, you can learn basic commands through gaming and interaction. These games teach you some basics of coding and commands by getting you to move a character on a screen to complete a number of tasks. Each of the games work in a similar way, using someone’s favorite characters to help them learn. These also help keep focus and attention.

The first code that you will learn is through blocks.

Minecraft – https://code.org/minecraft

Dr Who – http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/games/doctor-who-game

Frozen – https://studio.code.org/s/frozen/stage/1/puzzle/1

Star Wars – https://code.org/starwars

Moana – http://partners.disney.com/hour-of-code

Once you have completed the tasks in blocks, you could then also try using a different language with some of the games such as Java if you wish. Its a great way of experiencing some of the differences in the languages.

The main program behind blocks is Scratch. To see more on the block programming method have a look at Scratch itself.

At the scratch site there are learning tools and lessons to help you learn, as well as access to the full programming language. The Scratch site also hosts a lot of other people’s programs which you can run/play and look at how they have constructed their code.

Scratch is a free visual programming language developed by The MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Media Lab.[1] Scratch is used by students, scholars, teachers,and parents to easily create animations, games, etc. It provides a stepping stone to the more advanced world of computer programming. It can also be used for a range of educational and entertainment constructionist purposes from math and science projects, including simulations and visualizations of experiments, recording lectures with animated presentations, to social sciences animated stories, and interactive art and music.[2] Viewing the existing projects available on the Scratch website, or modifying and testing any modification without saving it requires no online registration.

Source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scratch_(programming_language)

Scratch allows users to use event-driven programming with multiple active objects called sprites.[1] Sprites can be drawn, as vector or bitmap graphics, from scratch in a simple editor that is part of Scratch, or can be imported from external sources, including webcams.

Source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scratch_(programming_language)

All you need now is to dedicate some time each week to learn to code.

In my next post, I’ll be cranking it up a notch, taking some of those coding skills and putting them together with some basic 3D printing and build to construct a programmable robot.  I’ll also be looking at the value of STEM subjects and why we need to be encouraging younger people to consider and study them. Great timing in our house as we’re helping our son choose his next set of coursework for the year!

This post first appeared in Max’s blog.


Max Hemingway — Senior Architect

Max is a senior architect for DXC in the United Kingdom. With more than 25 years of experience, he has a broad and deep range of technical knowledge and is able to translate business needs into IT-based solutions. Currently the chief architect of the BAE Systems account in the UK, Max has a proven track record acquired through continual client engagement and delivery of leading edge infrastructures, all of which have delivered positive results for end-clients, including IT cost reduction, expansion of service capability and increased revenues.

 

 

Trackbacks

  1. […] to have a go at building a robot for a STEM session last weekend, to show the power of code (see my last post about learning to code) and how it can be used to control something.  A moving robot is a great visualisation to […]

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  2. […] STEM education, activities and engagement.  For those interested in getting their hands on code, get some tips on where to start, then try testing your coding skills to the next level and build and power a robot with code. In my […]

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  3. […] on from my last blog post “How you can begin to Code“, by now you should be getting to grips with a good level of basic coding using games to help […]

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  4. […] are arguments for and against learning to code; however, having an understanding of what is going on in the coding world helps with today’s […]

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