Coding for Kids

Hey, I'm Derek! You may have read some of my earlier posts on the Student Blog about my travels through Europe. (For those of you who haven't, I have a bio here: /sites/default/files/blog_archives/studentblog/derek.html). In short, I deferred my acceptance to Olin and took a gap year. As such, my posts are about "pre-matriculation planning" rather than "post-graduate planning", but they're similar in practice :).

I've migrated my posts over to the PGP blog since I'm into the second portion of my gap year: an internship. Olin got me situated with an internship in Somerville, right outside of Boston - Sally from PGP in particular helped me enormously! I'm working with a small nonprofit here, informally named One2One2Go, and our main goal is to improve the education of Somerville children with technology. 
My focus right now is a program called eToys, a program that has many uses. With it, kids can learn basics of programming, animation, and logic, but it's so much more than that. Another organization called Waveplace 
has created an innovative curriculum that extends eToys to virtually every subject...math, science, social studies, even language arts. It's being used very successfully in developing countries like Haiti to fuse education and technology.
Thumbnail image for etoys_script.jpg
As someone who's planning to major in ECE and who has a specific interest in programming, I think the scripting aspect of eToys is particularly intriguing. I didn't learn my first scripting language until I was in high school, and yet the eToys interface is simple enough that it can be taught to kids in 4th grade. I can only imagine how much easier it is to pick up other languages when you've learned the basics at age 9!
To the right is a sample eToys script. It's simple, using a graphical interface and drag-and-drop tiles to illustrate the script. But it works. If you're interested in trying eToys for yourself, you can download it for free online at squeakland.org. And - this is shameless recruiting here - we're always looking for volunteers to teach kids how to use eToys. Shoot me an email at redfern.derek@gmail.com if want to help us out!
Stay tuned for more from my internship in Somerville!

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