Jan 21, 2007

Using the NXT to Teach Kids Programming

Awhile back there was an article in Salon entitled, "Why Johnny Can't Code". Nat Torkington follows up with an article entitled, "Why Johnny Can't Program".

This "how-to" article chronicles Nat's efforts to teach kids to program using NXT-G (and other software). The article includes comments from teachers re: methods they use to teach kids programming. Read the article here.

Teachers: besides the obvious (e.g, FLL), what languages and methods do you use to instill a love of programming in kids?

3 comments:

Jim Kelly said...

Rick,

I read the first 2 articles a while back, but what I liked about this one was all the comments and feedback that were provided - many of the commenters provide links to free programming software that some of our readers might be interested in - it's never a BAD thing to learn more programming languages. If you like programming with NXT-G, then imagine what you can do with other languages? Check out http://www.squeak.org/ which had a LOT of recommendations.

Jim

Larry Langellier said...

Thanks for sharing the article Rick!

Here's some info I shared back in September about some very cool environments that can be used to introduce kids to programming:

Scratch - a drag-and-drop programming toolkit that allows children to create their own games, animated stories, and interactive art. I played with a beta this summer and it is VERY cool, especially for younger kids. You can check out the site at http://scratch.mit.edu/. Won't be available until later this year, but there is a cool 10 minute video that demonstrates the capabilities. Developed at MIT.

Squeak/Etoys - Squeak is a "media authoring tool" -- software that you can download to your computer and then use to create your own media or share and play with others. You can learn more at http://www.squeakland.org and http://www.squeak.org. Scratch is built on top of Squeak. Developed by Alan Kay, the father of object-oriented programming, the mouse, and Graphical User Interfaces (while at Xerox PARC). He was inspired by the work of Jerome Bruner (constructivist learning theories) and Seymour Papert (anyone recognize the father of the Mindstorms...)

Alice - The focus of the Alice project is to provide the best possible first exposure to programming for students ranging from middle schoolers to college students. It removes barriers that currently prevent many students from successfully learning to program a computer. Alice makes it much easier for students to create programs. Students drag-and-drop words in a direct manipulation interface. In addition, Alice reifies object-based programming by providing animated, on-screen 3D virtual objects. Alice was developed at Carnegie Mellon.

If you are wondering where I came across much of this, you might want to check out the Lifelong Kindergarten website - the group at MIT responsible for PicoCrickets, Scratch, and of course related to the Media Group that produced our beloved Mindstorms Robots! Their site is http://llk.media.mit.edu/.

sdvfasdva said...

Does any one know where to find more information on NXTalk - The programming environment being created for the Lego Mindstorms range? I am doing a University project on it and cant find anything solid.

Cheers

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