KidLabs Activities For Schools
As the 21st century progresses, computer programming or ‘coding’ is becoming an invaluable skill. It is likely that coding ability will be one of the key differentiating skills of the future.
What exactly is coding ?
Before learning to create software applications, learning to code involves finding logically sound solutions to everyday problems that can be expressed as algorithms or mathematical equations. First, programmers break down a real-world problem into a series of steps (algorithm) and data structures. These then need to be expressed in a language the computer understands.
How does coding help children ?
In essence, coding builds the capacity to analyse a situation, identify its key components, model the necessary data and processes, and create or refine a program that can solve the issue at hand. Therefore, programming processes require creative thought, structured reasoning, collaboration, and logic, all of which are employed to create elegant solutions to real-world problems.
In addition to being a highly employable skill, coding might act as a catalyst towards a child’s personal and mental growth2. The practice of coding has been linked to creative therapy techniques since it represents a safe space for individuals to explore new ideas. Moreover, it allows children to express themselves in a format other than the spoken word. Coding can help children develop their creative thinking skills and boost confidence levels, since the results of solving a problem – a working piece of software – are immediate and tangible.
What are the benefits of learning how to code ?
Coding allows children to create new and unique applications, helping establish a platform for children to channel their creative potential. Many start learning to code by writing games or animating graphics, for example. Some of the world’s top games companies, such as Codemasters, were founded by pioneers who began coding at a young age.
Coding attempts to engage the learner in a creative knowledge-building process that aims to enhance the co-creative learning process as opposed to a passive learning system. As a result, coding-related activities encourage children to employ unconventional and out-of-the-box thinking, improving their problem-solving skills.
The ability to organise and manage different types of information is especially crucial for children since they are still discovering how the world operates in an effort to satisfy their curiosity. Coding can help teach them how to manage multiple inflows of information and categorise them accordingly, helping them to learn, remember and succinctly present information.
Any sizable coding project is usually a collaborative venture requiring several programmers and designers to work together to attack the different parts of a problem. Learning to code requires individual coders to communicate effectively with each other in order to manage and delegate tasks while working towards a common goal. The more experience children have of collaborative work, the greater their ability to become contributing members of a team. Additionally, collaboration-based projects can help children to effectively handle conflict and disagreement, and to learn how to harness the strengths and resources of each team member.
Solving problems via writing computer programs is a hands-on process that involves making mistakes, testing your work, and correcting errors. Coding also encourages the breakdown of complex concepts and problems into manageable steps in an effort to understand the problem better. This helps children to measure progress and adjust their thinking accordingly.
Moreover, coding encourages a process of self-reflection in a safe learning environment, where children can examine the errors in the software and try to solve them independently. Once this problem-solving skill is internalised, children learn the importance of thinking on their feet.
Coding relies heavily on concepts from both logic and mathematics and can be an engaging way for children to learn these ideas visually and interactively. The strategies learned in coding involve presentation, reasoning skills, concentration, problem-solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity, all of which are important for academic achievement.