Coding is responsible for every single piece of technological equipment that we use in our lives, from our smartphones to our favorite websites and even high-powered machines, yet many people don’t know the first thing about it. For those who doesn’t know, code is the special language that tells our tech devices how to function, and coding is the act of combining various lines of code to create websites, software, and other things that make our devices work.
New York City educators know that getting kids familiar with coding at an early age not only sets them up for successful futures, but invites kids to start creating inventions that positively impact their world and the world around them.
“Coding is magic. Coding is what got us into space, what lets us FaceTime with our friends, and how we can keep our houses cool in the summer,” says Noah Berg, chief communications officer at Pixel Academy, which offers coding classes like Coding with Minecraft, which uses the popular videogame Minecraft to teach kids about coding, Arcade-Style Game Development, which allows kids to create their own retro arcade games, and APP/coding, where kids develop and brand their own mobile apps. “Pixel Academy empowers kids by providing safe, creative, and innovative experiences with digital technology. We hope that our kids can start to build and identify with digital knowledge so they can own and recognize these concepts down the road. Coding can come across as a daunting task to a young learner, so we use familiar, interactive interfaces like Minecraft and littleBits to support and inspire their creativity.”
Camilla Gazal and Flavia Naslausky, co-presidents of Zaniac Learning—which uses programs like Scratch, Python, or Java to encourage kids to develop real-world skills like web design, app creation, and game design—agree that the coding knowledge is important for kids to have. “Coding is a basic literacy in the digital age. A key component of our approach to teaching is game-based learning,” they wrote in an email. “Many kids already have an ingrained love and passion for game and play, which brings in elements problem solving that is key to building confidence and retaining information. Hands-on STEM enrichment programs engage kids in creative, conceptual problem solving that can bridge the gap between theory and practice.”
Besides the obvious benefits of coding, like learning the language of the computer in preparation for a job in the tech industry later on in life, kids who code know how to tap into their sense of creativity to solve difficult problems, invent new solutions, and become more engaged in math and science.
“By learning to code, children develop logical thinking skills that help them beyond the act of programming a computer. These logical thinking skills translate into many other aspects of their lives as they grow older, from developing the proper steps necessary to solve complex problems in their classes to leading a team to tackle group challenges,” says Scott Heifetz, launch director of the LAUNCH Math & Science Centers, which offer four different coding programs, each at varying levels of difficulty so that your child’s coding knowledge can grow as they do, as well as STEM-based coding camps.
“At CodeAdvantage, we believe coding is the future and that children develop critical thinking, creative expression, and analytical reasoning skills when they learn to code. Most importantly, the ability to create through technology is a powerful motivator to inspire kids to learn while having a blast,” says Charu Chaturvedi, co-founder of CodeAdvantage, which offers fun coding classes fit for Kindergarten through grade 8. Classes include Robot Zoo-Anibots, where kids can use coding to learn about animals and their body movements and Flying Spacebots, where kids can construct their own space rovers. “We offer our classes in a variety of flexible after school programs with over 30 private and public schools, private classes in students’ homes, and working with community centers. We strive to make coding as accessible as possible so the youth of today can experience the power of coding!”
The ability to understand the digital world through coding not only helps kids grow and learn, but it helps them to find even more ways to express their creativity, and their ability to build things with both their hands and their minds encourages them to fully immerse themselves in their studies. Move over, Silicon Valley, because New York City has a new wave of digital super kids (and their awesome teachers) that are preparing to change the world.
Top Coding Resources
In addition to the great coding classes all over the city, kids can learn more about technology offline with the help of these great books and toys!
My First Coding Book
This great book by Kiki Prottsman, an education program manager at Code.org, is interactive with flaps, wheels, and sliders that teach the basic concepts of computer coding, and is perfect for kids as young as age 5. Part of DK Publishing’s line of coding books for kids, this book will have kids doing puzzles, mazes, and games all while learning the basic concepts of sequences, algorithms, and debugging. They won’t even know they are learning to code! dk.com/childrens-books
Technology Will Save Us
With a mission to “inspire kids by combining the power of play with the possibilities of technology through toys,” Technology Will Save Us is a company that encourages kids to explore coding and the world around them through interactive toys, like the Micro:Bot robot building kit and the Speaker Kit, where any object your child loves can be turned into a speaker. These sets are as fun to play with as they are to build, and help kids to fall in love with and understand coding. techwillsaveus.com
Technology kits from littleBits are just the inspiration your child needs to start inventing. Designed to be fun, creative, and easy to use, their kits explore a variety of different options, like touch-activated mechanisms, create your own instruments or smart devices, basic coding, and more. littlebits.cc
Local Coding Programs We Love
Beam Center, beamcenter.org
Brooklyn Robot Foundry, brooklynrobotfoundry.com
Coding Space, thecodingspace.com
Construction Kids, constructionkids.com
Generation Code, generationcode.com
I2 camps, i2camp.org
LAUNCH Math & Science, launchmath.com
New York Code + Design Academy, nycda.com
Pixel Academy, pixelacademy.org
SciTech Kids, sci-techkids.com
Zaniac Learning, zaniaclearning.com