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Block-based coding started by MIT in the US makes coding enjoyable for kids

Dorah Msele

Sept. 21, 2019

Acquiring computational thinking and creative skills are vital to solving problems in any field. Coding, in simple terms, is the execution of that creative and problem-solving process. Coding is being introduced at an early stage in many schools to foster 21st-century skills in kids.
Why coding for kids?
Coding helps kids visualise abstract ideas and enables them to apply science to real-world problems. It also helps develop planning and linear analytical skills. As kids learn to write complicated codes, they can develop better focus, build determination and flexibility to work through challenges. Coding teaches logical communication and strengthens self-evaluating skills in kids via a trial-and-error method.
Block-based coding
A few years ago, coding was considered the home turf of programming language experts, as most such languages are complicated due to their adherence to syntax, such as in C++ or Java. However, due to the absence of such complications in block-based coding languages, coding can be anyone s forte now. For instance, Scratch, developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is a programming language that can be used by youngsters with ease. Scratch uses self-explanatory programming blocks that enable kids to write simple but effective codes without getting bogged down by complex syntax and constructs of text-based programming language. These visual blocks are arranged together into a stack of blocks that control or decide the behaviour of different elements in animations.
Scratch not only enables kids to make animated stories, but also helps them create science projects, anime soap operas, virtual construction kits, video games, opinion polls, trigonometry tutorials, and interactive artwork and greeting cards.
KODA: For holistic learning
A game-designing platform developed by Next Education, KODA makes it possible for students to design their own games using block-based coding. In the process, students learn key concepts across STEM topics, computational thinking, creativity and logical thinking. KODA also comprises various age-appropriate and relatable learning modules and assessments. The final outcome of KODA, however, is a game designed by the user. This provides a tangible outcome to the learning activity and keeps students engaged.
Coding toys and robotics
Microbit-Enabled Educational Robot (MEER) developed by Next Education is a coding bot that can help students learn computer programming through a hands-on approach. Such toys can facilitate the process of STEM learning. RoboticsLab by Next Education is another tool to introduce coding to kids. It is a combination of a hands-on kit and a robot programming software, THINK, developed in association with IIT Bombay, which helps instil robot-building skills in students.
To sum up, coding can help children develop the skills needed in today s world, such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity, while making learning across all disciplines enjoyable.
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