Coding is for everyone: it is an activity that allows boys and girls to be introduced to programming.
Coding is for everyone: it is an activity that allows boys and girls to be introduced to programming. What can we learn from coding and what are the main resources? We asked Roberta Russo, Business Manager at Hewlett Packard Enterprise and champion CoderDojo @ HPE.
What is coding?
“With“ Coding ”we refer to the activities of introducing children to programming, through online environments of visual programming, starting from Primary School. The most common environment is Scratch, a block programming software (like lego bricks) developed by the MIT Media lab in Boston with the aim of bringing children and teenagers closer to programming. Scratch is specifically designed for the 8 – 16 age group, but is used by millions of people of all ages around the world ”.
Why is it important to teach coding to children from the earliest years?
"The modality of these meetings that we also use in HPE (Hewlett Packard Enterprise) is called" coderdojo "(from the union of the two words coder and dojo, the gym where you train martial arts).
They are not face-to-face lessons, children and teenagers are divided into groups of 6/8 according to age and any previous experience and the children of each group are seated all around a table, each with their own PC and with the support and the guidance of one or two mentors learn to program or rather (in the dojo) train to program.
The volunteer mentors give some guidelines and suggestions on the type of game to be programmed, then the children are free to try, make mistakes, try again in a different way (without getting discouraged). That is, they develop computational thinking. Children are encouraged to help each other and after a few meetings they can even become junior mentors themselves ".
Could coding also be a useful tool for students with SLD / SEN?
"Coding is for everyone: it is an extremely inclusive approach and in the numerous events we held we met children of all abilities who have managed to successfully create their own video game."
What advice can you give parents and teachers to start coding children?
“My advice is to have children participate in a Scratch coding event starting as early as 8 years old. I suggest presenting it as a fun event where you learn how to make your own video game and not as a lesson. Children must feel free to make mistakes, to try several times until they find the right path by themselves, with the support of mentors ”.
What coding resources do you recommend?
“There are a lot of resources, even if most of them are in English and maybe for the little ones they are not accessible.
We as HPE, as part of the Social Innovation initiatives, thanks to our volunteers, hold one meeting a month, on Sunday morning from 10:00 to 12:30. We did them at our offices in Cernusco sul Naviglio and Rome and from March 2020 we have converted our meetings into remote appointments and we have already made a dozen. It's not like being all together in the classroom, but I see that this is an important time for children and families to have fun together. Furthermore, in this way we can reach children all over Italy.
You can find invitations to these events on eventbrite by searching CoderDojo @ HPE, or by following the facebook page RagazziOnline (https://www.facebook.com/ragazzionline)
I also created a YouTube channel (http://bit.ly/RobyCoding) which contains many video tutorials in Italian and without advertising to learn Scratch starting from scratch at any time and following your own pace ”.
In short, there is plenty of choice to have fun with coding! Also discover the Redooc.com coding and robotics laboratory: https://redooc.com/it/laboratori/coding-robotica