My 9 yo has expressed interest in doing a coding camp and she told me she wants to be an engineer recently. I guess she started doing scratch last year at school and really enjoyed it, and she totally lit up when I asked her if she’d want to do something like this for camp next year, which I was kind of surprised by. She’s really good at math too. Anyway, I wondered if you had any suggestions about how to find things that would be the appropriate level and interesting, that won’t totally turn her off. I remember when I was growing up only nerdy boys did this sort of thing, and they weren’t super nice to girls like me who were interested. Do you have any suggestions on how to nurture this?
My sister also got turned off of programming by jerk boys at a computer camp. (She does do some programming for her job but dislikes that part.). I think for that reason there are many places that have girls only summer camps. When she’s a little older, keep in mind these summer camps in Ann Arbor.
DC1 enjoyed NIU virtual summer camps last year. We don’t know if they will be virtual this year, but she can always go in person.
Outschool has online summer camps for girls. Here’s one example. (Currently it only has Spring sessions up, but it will likely have summer sessions later).
Khan Academy has an hour of code thing. There’s also coursera, though that may be best for older kids.
One of DH’s friends recommends this learn-to-code site.
Here’s some other thoughts we have had:
1 Minecraft coding not well supported on its own, but can work well in a classroom setting—there may be some that’s better supported but we haven’t found it.
2 Unity is a lot of fun, we’re not sure how easy to get into without a class, but it easy to do on your own after having had a class.
3 Here’s an earlier post that has a link to a Python book for kids that DC1 enjoyed. There are links in the comments to suggestions for other ways for kids to learn programming.
4 Scratch has come a long way since DC1 was little. Once you create a program you can share your code. There are a lot of scratch programs available online that people share, so you can see what people have done and you can learn a lot from looking at other people’s programs. She could look at programs and change them to see what happens and make them her own.
5 Statistical programming packages make nice beginner languages. You could give her simple programming assignments to help you with your work in exchange for $$. DC1 has made a few .do files for me in the past, though very simple ones.
Many years from now, when she is thinking about college, look for engineering programs that graduate a healthy percent of women and avoid the ones where there’s a precipitous drop between freshman and senior year.
Grumpy Nation: What recommendations do you have for learning and growing with computer programming for a tween?