Are “Kid Coding” programs (Scratch, Blockly, Mindstorm etc) worthwhile?

Written by Alex Preiss on July 14, 2019

“Kid Coding” programs are generally visually-based programming languages (VPL’s) which are specifically designed to teach through manipulating programmatic elements rather by specifying commands textually. The advantage of this style of programming is that beginners can easily become familiar with fundamental programming concepts by breaking them down into easily understood chunks. 

Scratch, developed by MIT, is one such platform that has become popular. The software does not require full literary skills in order to use, and offers a playful UI which kids reportedly enjoy interacting with. While Scratch is directed at children, it can be a useful learning tool across all age groups, even adults. 

Blockly, another popular platform developed by Google, is slightly more advanced and allows programming novices to build functionality within a device. Blockly invites students to explore projects involving robots, automation, and wireless technology and engage their imagination without needing to be proficient in programming. The Blockly editor uses interlocking, graphical blocks to represent code concepts like variables, logical expressions, loops, and more – allowing users to apply programming principles without having to worry about syntax.

Lego Mindstorms is another platform aimed toward the development of programmable robots based on the Lego building blocks system. The latest package, Lego Mindstorms EV3, offers a curriculum designed to teach core computer programming logic and reasoning skills using the context of robotics. 

These projects are designed to help students think about the patterns and structure of not just robotics, but also programming and problem-solving generally in their lives. Each provides questions and feedback to ensure students progress at each stage of their learning.