The Loh Down On Science

A fun way to teach children computer programming

Is learning computer code so easy even a child can do it?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down in Science.

Computer scientists say yes—but not enough youngsters are interested in programming.  Most programmers don’t learn until college!

Enter researchers at the University of California, San Diego.  They surveyed computer scientists who had learned programming as kids.  The subjects shared several other traits:  They'd learned at their own pace.  The activity had been exploratory and empowering.  And—it was fun!

So the researchers developed a video game based on  those qualities called “CodeSpells.” 

In CodeSpells, players are wizards who help gnomes by using magic.  Wizards learn to write simple spells.  But:  Secret!  The spells are the programming language Java!

To test the game, the researchers had forty tween girls play CodeSpells for an hour.  At the end, none wanted to stop!  Some even found ways to enhance spells!

And, so kids, if you want to try it, we have a link to the program. Go to our website and look for "CodeSpells."

Adults?  You try it, too. We won't tell anyone you did, or about your secret Hogwarts nightshirt.

 

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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