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Kids learning Java...

Marcus Laubli
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Joined: Dec 24, 2004
Posts: 116
While studying for my SCJP exam, one of my daughters asked if she could learn to program too. Why not? I asked. Then I realized that there is very little (free) 7/8/9th grade material out there that she would understand.

Anyone have any ideas?


Marcus L´┐Żubli, SCJP 1.4, CLP 5.0, SCWCD 1.4 (preparing)
M Beck
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 14, 2005
Posts: 323
Originally posted by Marcus Laubli:
While studying for my SCJP exam, one of my daughters asked if she could learn to program too. Why not? I asked. Then I realized that there is very little (free) 7/8/9th grade material out there that she would understand.

Anyone have any ideas?


in those grades, she should be able to grasp the "How to Think Like a Computer Scientist" textbooks. they're free to download and use under a fairly liberal license.

Java version; Python version.

i don't want to sound like an off-topic evangelist for an entirely different programming language, but if she has truly no previous programming experience, Python might actually be easier to get her started with. she could learn algorithms and logical thinking without having to struggle with the machine-dependent details of typed variables, having to remember to cast and match types, and so on.

then again, she'd probably look to you for assistance, and if you're very familiar with Java, you might be able to help her better by using a language you wouldn't have to be learning yourself as the two of you went along. not that Python is at all hard to learn, but it's always tricky to learn while in teaching mode.

if your daughter is particularly bright (or you particularly cruel, perhaps? ) you might look into How To Design Programs, the free textbook to accompany the Dr. Scheme language environment. it might be a bit too advanced for her grade level, though, and naturally, you'd have to be proficient in Scheme yourself first. also, she might come out of that experience either very frustrated with programming, or else proficient in Scheme; you be the judge of the wisdom of that...
[ January 25, 2005: Message edited by: M Beck ]
Keith Biddlecomb
Greenhorn

Joined: Jan 25, 2005
Posts: 5
If she is really interested in programming, she could always look at example files on the internet for simple programs. Thats how I first learned to program. Maybe I'm just weird, but I find that just looking at some simple code posted on the interned (google is your friend) to help understand syntax is the best way for me to learn.


Keith Biddlecomb<br />Computer Science<br />University of Virginia
Marcus Laubli
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 24, 2004
Posts: 116
Thanks. I'll talk to her about it and let you know what the outcome is!
marc weber
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 31, 2004
Posts: 11343

Originally posted by Marcus Laubli:
...there is very little (free) 7/8/9th grade material out there that she would understand.

You might be surprised at how well "pre-adults" grasp -- even embrace -- abstract concepts. Consider how much easier it is for kids to learn a foreign language, for example.


"We're kind of on the level of crossword puzzle writers... And no one ever goes to them and gives them an award." ~Joe Strummer
sscce.org
Marcus Laubli
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 24, 2004
Posts: 116
Marc,

You're preaching to the choir on this one! I had the distinct privilege of adopting a sibbling group (8, 9, and 10 year old biological sibblings) from Russia almost 5 years ago. The 8 year old is now 13, and interested in programming.

She does still have difficulties understanding technical terms, however, things are getting better!

Let me tell you one experience we had with this little gem of a child:

My wife (Tina) was reading the girls the story in Luke, chapter 7 about the woman who wahed Jesus' feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. Verse 50 reads "But He said to the woman, Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."

Well, with children new to the language, Tina asked the girls "does anyone know what peace is?" .. at which time Katya (then age 8) responded: "yes, they are the little round green things on our plate".

You can guess that we'll have fun with Java syntax!
Mike Gershman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 13, 2004
Posts: 1272
I'll bet your girls would love "The Little Schemer". It teaches functional programming with a wonderful sense of humor. Sort of like Dr. Seuss meets LISP. It's not free but it's cheap.

Once the girls learn Scheme, procedural languages should be a snap.


Mike Gershman
SCJP 1.4, SCWCD in process
Bill Tschumy
Greenhorn

Joined: Dec 01, 2003
Posts: 4
Originally posted by Marcus Laubli:
I realized that there is very little (free) 7/8/9th grade material out there that she would understand.

Anyone have any ideas?


I wrote a very simple IDE called Jurtle that was designed to teach high school (and 8th graders) programming in Java. It makes use of Turtle Graphics (a.la. Logo) to provide simple, yet engaging programming tasks. Jurtle is coupled with a brief set of lessons that introduce the very basics of Java programming. You can learn more and download a trial version at htttp://www.otherwise.com/Jurtle.html

I apologize for the shameless plug. I hope it is useful to you.

Bill
 
With a little knowledge, a cast iron skillet is non-stick and lasts a lifetime.
 
subject: Kids learning Java...