Seattle Kids Encouraged Into Computer Programming Courses

With an array of introductions into computer programming, computer science teachers at Seattle's Lakeside School have been encouraging courses as a way for students to develop critical thinking skills that are "completely transferable" to other areas of learning.

Computer programming helps develop critical thinking skills such as how to break down a problem into manageable parts or how to put tasks into a logical sequence, as well as the importance of precise communication, writes Julie Weed at the Seattle Times.

Lauren Bricker, a computer science teacher at Seattle's Lakeside School, said:

"These skills are completely transferable.

"Students can use them to write a computer program or a history paper."

And until high and middle schools embrace computer programming fully, students are encouraged to utilize free websites like the Computer Science Unplugged, which uses short videos and home-based activities to introduce concepts like counting in binary and data compression.

Students are able to use Scratch, a programming language that lets users drag and drop program commands into a window on their computer screens to create their first interactive animations, games, music and art.

Bricker believes Scratch is a fantastic program that incorporates many interactive elements that can be a great way to encourage girls into the world of programming.

"Many programming systems may not initially appeal to girls.

"With Scratch, they can start with an interactive story, or something that interests them and the programming can flow from there."

Outside of the obvious career prospects, computer programming can also boost young people's patience and resilience. Complicated programs rarely work on the first try, and students are expected to analyze what goes wrong and how to fix it.

"When the light bulb goes off and they figure it out, kids feel like all that effort was worth it," said Bricker.

Microsoft's Dreams Park – a slightly more advanced program – also is available free to students. Dreams Park provides professional-level developer and design tools such as Visual Studio.

Summer camps that offer sessions on programming are also available for students who want to embrace the subject outside of the classroom and learn on their own. However, Bricker warns:

"Parents should make sure the camp is a good match for their child.

"Some camps are more intensive and can be a discouraging experience for kids who are on the fence about programming."

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