FOR Australian kids the most important language they will learn might not be French, German or Mandarin but rather computer coding.
The coding and computer programming languages will soon be the most commonly understood in the world. Writing code is the way computer programs and apps are made.
Sydneysiders Ben Levi and Peter Neill have been teaching code to since 2013 and what started a hobby has gained nationwide momentum.
Their company Code Camp has now taught more than 18,000 primary school students across the country to write code in holiday programs, after school camps and classrooms in both private and public schools.
By 2020 they hope to have taught 200,000 Aussie students the coding “super power”.
A deal with electronics giant HP will see them provide computers and support to Code Camp.
“We want to create future entrepreneurs*, innovators* and change-makers,” said Mr Levi.
“The jobs of tomorrow are about problem solving and being creative.”
The tech industry has argued there is a shortage of Australians skilled up for jobs in the sector and more needs to be done in training.
The Victorian government this year launched a new Digital Technologies curriculum* in a push to have all children learning to code in school.
“We want all Victorian kids to have the opportunity to develop the skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow,” Victorian Minister for Education James Merlino said.
Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland, Estonia and England have done the same with coding and programming classes in school, with kids as young as five learning to code and create their own computer games.
“I think we’re in a good place now to learn from other countries and see what’s worked and what hasn’t,” Mr Levi said.
“So while we may be starting a bit behind, we can make sure we have the biggest impact possible for the future.”
Code Camp offers four different levels of programs for kids ranging from kindergarten to year six.
Among the Code Camp alumni* is an 8-year-old girl who, after attending classes, was able to build a website designed to help her dad to quit smoking.
A 13-year-old named Aiden now has “two or three” apps in the Apple app store after first learning to build them at Code Camp and then further teaching himself on YouTube, Mr Levi said.
Some of the kids show such promise that he even has his eye on them for future job positions.
“There is a 9-year-old we regularly joke with his mother that if she would let him drop out of school, we would hire him,” Mr Levi said.
“He has the skills that some people have coming out of uni.”
According to the Australian Computer Society President Brenda Aynsley, coding language will soon be the most common language in the world.
“You need to teach a language as early as possible to allow for maximum fluency* in a child.”
entrepreneurs: people who start their one businesses
curriculum: guide for what school needs to teach
alumni: graduated student
f luency: ability to use a language
LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY
Activity 1. Computer coding
Computer coding is the language that computer programmers use to get the computer to do what they need them to do.
Why is teaching coding to students so important?
Why do they refer to coding as a super power?
What does Code Camp offer?
What are some of their success stories?
What is their goal for 2020?
Do you do coding at your school?
Many Victorian schools are beginning to teach coding. Does your school teach coding?
If so write down a list of things you have learnt to do so far and what you would still like to learn.
If not, write a letter to your school principal highlighting the benefits of teaching ‘coding’. Make your letter as persuasive as possible.
Time: allow about 30 minutes to complete this task
Curriculum links: English, Digital Technologies
Activity 2. Morse code
Different types of codes have been used to transmit and conceal information for a long time. An example you may have heard of is morse code.
Morse code uses different combinations of dots and dashes to represent each letter and number.
A message is sent as dots and dashes.
The person receiving the message has the same code and can translate it back into the original message.
Use the internet to find the international morse code chart.
In pairs, use this chart to code a simple message to each other.
Decode each other’s message and reply to it.
Extension: Step by step
Computer coding requires giving the computer information as a series of steps to follow.
If you forget a step in the process the computer will not know what to do.
Try writing a step by step series of instructions to complete a simple task such as putting your hair into a ponytail, tying your shoelace or making a Vegemite sandwich.
Ask a partner to follow the instructions exactly as written to see if you have missed a step or not explained them clearly enough. It’s not as easy as you think.
Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Digital Technologies
(Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers, Punctuation)
For this challenge, you will need a partner and a dice. Choose six words from the article (or nine if using a nine sided dice) and assign a word to each number of the dice.
The game is simple. If you roll a three, your partner must write a sentence using that word. They then roll the dice for you. If it is a two, you must write a sentence using the word assigned to two.
The game you’ve been playing is related to coding.
Can you figure out what type of programming function it is?
Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Big Write and VCOP