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A Different Approach to Teaching Kids and Teens to Code

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This article originally appeared in HackerNoon magazine. How do you teach 5th graders about Software Engineering concepts without getting too deep into any particular language? This is a question I’d been asking myself a few weeks in advance of attending a local school’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fair. I’d toyed with one of the standard approaches — move an object from a starting point to a destination with a series of commands (“Move left, turn 90 degrees clockwise, etc.). There are plenty of board games ( Robot Turtles, RoboRally ) and online examples of this concept, and while it definitely presents a clear goal, I’ve always felt the only big take-away for children is that the order of your operations matters. Not only this, but in a more literal sense, challenging problems like movement and rotation as well as object collisions are over-simplified. This leaves children with the wrong impression of programming — that there’s a set of commands out there

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