rSuperstars 2014

Computer Language

Learning Computer Languages : Fun && Easy

学习 电脑 语言 : 好 玩 && 容易


Yes, it's fun and easy!

This is a fun and easy introduction to computer programming languages for students at Glenwood Elementary School in Chapel Hill, NC. Ms. Judy Ouyang has already been teaching her dual language (English-Chinese) kindergarten class important ideas and skills, such as numbers, counting, letters, words, drawing and images, if statements, for loops, and logic, that translate readily to learning computer languages (Java, JavaScript, Python, etc.) for solving problems. In the school setting, verbal "if statements" and "loops" are used on a daily basis to manage the movement of students in the classroom and the hallways. Ms. Ouyang is able to point out how these fundamental ideas and skills are applied to computer languages and programming by using interesting presentations and games that involve students moving around the classroom as imaginary "computer language minions."

Why old folks often frown!

The use of the term "computer language" rather than "computer programming language" is deliberate, not only to simplify the terminology for young students but also to emphasize the notion of using language to enable machines to manage information and solve problems. Although most, if not all, schools use computers extensively, the teaching of computer languages is still relatively uncommon, even at the high school level. Even when students are exposed to computer languages it is often through courses teaching Java programming in high school (often advanced placement), which seems as odd as trying to introduce students to basic arithmetic by teaching them the quadratic equation while passing out calculators! To make matters worse, parents and grandparents often associate the term "programming" with tedious and uninspiring activities such as operating microwave ovens, TV remote controls, and office telephones. With this in mind, it is no wonder that people, young and old, often frown or lose interest when they hear the term "programming." However, these challenges are easily addressed and it is likely that teaching at least one computer language to all age groups, using simple analogies and entertaining presentations, will become the norm in the very near future.

It's language and science!

Though Python or JavaScript might be the better choice for introductory courses, high schools that teach computer language usually focus on C++ or Java. However, for the purpose of introducing students to computer science, at any K-12 grade level, the choice of language may not be particularly important. Since key concepts related to data structures and algorithms, such as loops, if statements, yes/no (true/false), numbers, counting, lists, input/output, text, etc., are common to nearly all languages, students can be introduced to the topic without requiring the selection of a specific language. Freeing young students from memorizing the syntax of a specific language makes the learning process a delightful adventure and allows the students to focus on the fundamentals of computer science that are essential regardless of the language. In summary, this introduction to computer language is perhaps best described as reading, writing, and arithmetic rolled together into a fun, creative, and "21st century" type of learning process centered on both language and science.

if you have a curious && creative mindset ...

All rights reserved, 2014