You don’t have to learn binary to be tech literate, but it seems that nowadays teens (and teen librarians) are encouraged more and more to speak the code language of computers. This can be a pretty intimidating task for many, but what I say is…just try it! You’ve probably coded before without even knowing it while religiously updating your Myspace or LiveJournal way back in the day. And creating checklists and flowcharts every day at work can actually help you understand basic coding concepts when you’re speaking with computers. C’mon, you’ve got it in the bag — you just have to try!
Here are a few ways you (and your teens) can get coding. After all, you’ll want to get a head start on communicating with our future computer overlords.
A lot of younger kids become Scratch aficionados before ever interacting with a teen librarian. If you’re brand new to coding, block coding interfaces like Scratch may be a good place to start — although the kiddie interface can be a little distracting. An excellent alternative is Code.org. It’s a free series of coding tutorials that teach basic coding concepts and do so with the power of pop culture on their side. That means you can create a game where you’re BB-8 from Star Wars and you help Rey collect scrap metal. Nerds, rejoice!
What’s also nice about Code.org is that there are lots of options for teens who are looking for the next steps in block coding. For instance, app development!
If your teens are big gamers, Construct 2 is a nice way to transition into more advanced coding concepts after Scratch. Although the website touts that there is “no coding required”, the application does introduce you to things like event sheets, as well as conditional and logic statements. So even though you won’t be writing or seeing the actual coding language, you’ll really be immersed in the concepts behind coding web games. And, boy oh boy, you can make some pretty sophisticated 2D games on this thing. I once did a program where teens made a Flappy Bird-type game with Construct 2, but we replaced the bird with an X-Wing Starfighter from Star Wars. (Is my nerd showing? That’s two Star Wars references in a blog post about coding.)
about Star Wars, that will teach you these languages while you actually make something cool. Projects definitely make it more fun to learn! And, for all you data management junkies, you can even brush up on your SQL, but I will have to kindly request you give me your lunch money.
So get to it! Go on and code! Be warned, it might be frustrating at times when you’re not quite sure where your code went wrong. But it’s a satisfying feeling when you figure out how to fix your mistakes and make a code run correctly. Your future computer overlords will surely reward you for learning their language so early in the game.