Kids and teens programming is everywhere in the news of late. A 12-year-old made a whack-a-mole Justin Beiber iPhone app. Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, declares that New York school systems are adding a software engineering pilot program. Facebook's Mark Zuberberg has stated the company has a policy of hiring as many engineers as possible. Even Bill Gates, along with Zuckerberg, are pushing for kids to learn to code.
Technology is ever changing, and in a world where technology moves at near warp-speed pace, it's hard to keep up with everything. Kids have a benefit in this regard because they can keep up with the changes while their parents take care of adult responsibilities. On the plus side, they are not only interested in using technology, but they are interested in making things with it as well.
Knowing how to use software is a basic, every day experience for many, if not all of us. Learning to code at any age is actually pretty easy. Mitch Resnick, director the Lifelong Kindergarten group at MIT Media Lab, shows just how quick, easy, and fun it is during a TEDx talk on the importance of teaching coding to kids.
One of the nice things about programming is that it's not going to go away. It's a valuable tool to put in your skill set. Some people, like Zuckerberg, believe that programmers are a commodity. Programming skills are in high demand to make things, but with a few basic skills at your disposal, it adds another dimension of creativity to your work. For instance, some university students of mine in the past have created their own professional quality videos for class presentations. I was not only blown away, but also a little jealous of the skills they posses.
Resnick, Gates and Bloomberg aren't the only ones to think about teaching kids coding, either. Ave Lauringson of the Tiger Leap Foundation has a brainchild in development called ProgeTiiger, which is a pilot program designed to introduce students in first grade to programming. I'll be interviewing Laurington soon to get to know more about the ProgeTiiger program.