micro:bit - From Blocks to Python
Once your kid has programmed in Scratch for a while, it's natural to ask yourself what comes next. How do you level
up your kids to ensure they are progressing their coding skills? The blocks-to-syntax series answers that question directly.
Basics of Code 3 serves as an entry point to Code Campus for kids who have had prior coding experience in a coding environment like Scratch. Code Campers will take the Computer Science concepts learned in previous courses and apply them to programming the micro:bit, an affordable, powerful mini-processor that can be adapted to control anything from air conditioners to washing machines and game controllers. Coding the micro:bit can be done in both a Blocks editor, as well as in Python. This allows us to compare structurally equivalent programs produced in each environment side-by-side, allowing students to learn Python by leveraging their block-based coding skills through analogy. The micro:bit is accessible by a Blocks Editor, which is an interface similar to that encountered in Scratch, or via a Python editor. Code Campers will thus slowly transition to the Python editor over the course of this blocks-to-syntax sequence. The unique multi-language feature of the micro:bit allows us to bridge the syntax divide - functionally identical programs are compared side-by-side so kids are introduced to syntax by example.
“Coding” is synonymous with “programming”. It refers to the art of writing computer code, which are instructions that a computer can follow to solve problems. Practically every facet of technology that we encounter in our daily lives - from online banking systems to video games on our iPhone, from the GPS systems we rely on navigation to the security systems that protect our homes and offices, is created from code.
At Code Campus, we start with Scratch and AppInventor - drag-and-drop block-based languages developed at MIT over more than decade for the specific purpose of teaching kids how to code. Learning to code in Scratch is a little like learning how to ride a bike by first starting with a tricycle - a tricycle can get you to places but you are not likely to compete in triathlon on one. With Scratch, kids learn the basics of the thinking process behind using computers to solve problems but what they can build is largely limited to video games, music and electronic art boards that run off the Scratch platform. Regular programming languages we hear about like Python, Java and C++ have no such restrictions and can be used to build applications across any technical domain you can think of but comes at the cost of much greater complexity and are much more difficult to set up for the beginner. Scratch and AppInventor are educational tools that allow us to separate the thinking of computer science from the operational tedium of regular languages, allowing us to introduce kids to the subject at a much earlier age and increase their future aptitude for the discipline.