What is the ideal age to start teaching your kids the principles of computer programming?
The day that my son saw 12 year-old app developer, Thomas Suarez’s, TED talk, he was hooked.
He wants to know how this magical world of app development works. We originally signed my son up for Vitamin Think’s web-learning portal Team Treehouse. This is a fun way to learn because it “gamifies” the learning experience. If you finish this lesson, it gives you points… if you finish a computer langauge, this gives you a badge.
MIT Labs has recently launched Scratch 2.0, which makes programming more playful and colorful. It’s entertaining, but at the end of the day, it’s still just a screen.
One startup that is doing some interesting things is a company called, Play-i. It’s a “stealthy” start-up based in Silicon Valley that recently closed it’s first round of seed capital. It’s mission is to “Teach Programming Through Play”. They intend to do this for kids age 5 and above with robotics. I’ve seen a live demo of their experiments. It’s damn cool.
Last week, I had the privilege of dropping by their Sunnyvale offices and meet the founders. One of the founders is Vikas Gupta. He sold his company, Jambool, which operated “Social Gold”, to Google for many millions in 2010. This product was integrated into Google’s ecosytem and evolved into Google Wallet.
Another of the founders, Saurabh Gupta, worked on the original iPod OS for 6 years at Apple as an Engineering Manager. Another founder, Mikal Greaves, was a VP of Engineering at Frog Design. With experience from Apple, Google, Amazon, Adobe, Elance, Pandora, Symantec and others, the rest of the executive team is just as impressive.
“What we found was that it’s not a lot of fun for kids to just program on a screen and keyboard. Kids become a lot more engaged when interacting with real world objects and robots that move, light up and make sounds. We’re building a robot completely from the ground up and kids will be able to program it to do anything they want it to do.”
– Vikas Gupta
When you make learning fun and playful… kids tend to be more curious. If you are a mom concerned about choosing the right educational toys or a cool “tech dad”, who wants to help his kids gain knowledge through innovative learning gadgets, you should keep an eye on them.
And it doesn’t matter which learning platform you use, be it Code.org, TeamTreehouse or Play-i’s learning, programmable robot toys… find a way to engage your child and teach them about computer and mobile programming.
It’s the fyoooooooture.
“Technology surrounds us, and our children are growing up in a dramatically different world because of it. Yet, the tools our children use to learn, and toys they play with, haven’t evolved. We owe it to our next generation to help them be creators with technology and not merely consumers of it. That’s our mission.”
– Vikas Gupta
This post written by guest contributor Travis Wright.