How to Teach Programming on the Playground (DrTechniko)

Modified on by Guest Blogger

Teach programming on the playground

Check out this great guest post on the subject of programming for children from our friend DrTechniko:

Technology is climbing at exponential rates and we have a hard time keeping up. At the heart of all of this is information technology. Massive data processing, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology are some of the hottest areas that in a few years will become integrated within our lives. In fact, some already have. All these technologies have their foundations on computer science. Wouldn’t it be great if we could teach our kids to think like computer scientists? Enter programming on the playground.

Technology and Learning for Children

Imagine the tools this would give a kid later in life. From the sense of empowerment that comes from creating technology to having the ability to analyzing and resolving the increasingly complex scenarios that are expected to occur in their adult life, the sooner we teach them, the better.

With that motivation in mind, I created a class to teach five-year-old kids how to program, called “How to train your robot”. I posted it on my personal DrTechniko blog, but I figured I’d share it with the Brainscape crowd. Kids take the role of a “robot master” while their parents become their pet “robots”. The kids get to control their parents by writing down symbols (from a Robot Language Dictionary that I provide) on a piece of paper. They hand off this “program” to their “robots” to execute it.

Kids are having fun controlling their parents by having them run programs to “bounce a ball 100 times over” and at the same time the parents are having a great workout! It’s a win, win :)

To read more about the class, you can visit the blog post on DrTechniko.

About the Doctor: Dr. Techniko wants to educate young minds about computer science and the scientific thought process and one day fill the world with young geniuses. His sci-fi and fantasy stories distill concepts from the latest advances in hot fields, such as artificial intelligence and nanotechnology, into their basic principles and teach them to children through fun story plots and character quests. Using the same cues he teaches kids how to program via games and storytelling.

Dr. Techniko in real life is Nikos Michalakis. Nikos graduated from MIT with an undergrad and Masters degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a minor in Mathematics. He then did post-graduate studies at NYU’s Courant Institute. He has done research at MIT’s Media Lab and Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence laboratories and companies like Nokia and Sun Microsystems. He has published his research in prestigious conferences and has been involved with multiple high-tech start-up companies over the years. He lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with his wife and their son. You can reach him through the DrTechniko Facebook page. He would love to hear your feedback.

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