Teaching Kids to Code - in 1 Week

by Ben Jacoby

If you‘re looking for the most promising programming talent in Lexington, Awesome Inc has you covered. There’s only one catch: some of them haven’t gotten to middle school yet.

This summer, Awesome Inc held three of our Week of Code for kids events. In total, 45 elementary, middle, and high school students learned to code with Awesome Inc.

Awesome Inc co-founder Nick Such, with the help of several other programming instructors, introduced the students to some of the most important tools and concepts for programming. In the 4 days of the Week of Code Camp, students learned to program a website, a mobile app, and a video game.

On day one, the students learned how to make their own websites from scratch in HTML and CSS. They learned how to select colors with hex values and create a table using only HTML tags. Then they got a chance to use FTP to upload their files directly to the server that hosted their websites.

On the second day, they used MIT’s App Inventor to create an Android app that could turn text into speech. They started by hard-coding their phrases into the app. Then, they figured out how to receive text input typed by the app’s user. After they mastered the text-to-speech app, they spent the afternoon creating a Whack-a-Mole app which could be played by clicking on the moles as they appeared.

On day three, the students used the Unity Game Engine to create their own complete replica of Pong. They each had a 2-player game with working paddles, a ball that bounced off the paddles and walls, and a system to keep score and reset the game when one player won.

On the final day, each of the kids worked on a project of his/her choosing which they presented to an audience of parents and Awesome Inc staffers at the end of the day. Some of them chose to make websites, some made apps, while some made different and more complex games in Unity. At the end of the day, every one of them had an impressive final product to show off. In three hours. It was awesome.

If you think this sounds like something that someone you know might be interested, we’re launching another Kids Coding Camp this fall - October 2nd - 5th. Sign up by September 20th to save $200. We expect this camp to sell out! Here is the registration page.

Of course, a single week is only enough to skim the surface of the world of coding. That’s why, this fall, Awesome Inc is kicking off the first semester of the Awesome Inc Academy.

Starting in September and ending in December, the Academy will give student an in-depth look at coding topics. They’ll work on projects throughout the semester, get an introduction to the theory behind programming, and get one-on-one time with the instructors. They’ll even have an opportunity to meet industry professionals and learn more about what it’s like to be a professional developer.

Of course, you don’t have to take it from us that starting early is great for a programmer’s career. Bill Gates had his first experience with computers when he made a tic-tac-toe game at the age of 13. Mark Zuckerberg was creating video games in middle school. Larry Page, co-founder of Google, had two programmers for parents and was surrounded by computers and technology throughout his childhood.

There are many other programmers whose life story shows that it’s never too early to start learning to code. The students at our Code Camp events have been the most creative, attentive, and enthusiastic learners we could have hoped for and they’re off to a great start mastering an invaluable set of skills. Hopefully, they’ll keep on learning, and in a decade or two they’ll be the professionals we invite back to help inspire the next generation of young programmers!