Posted by Britain's top bean on April 14, 2012

Turning kids into computer wizards

What if computer programming could be as fun as playing video games? That's the idea behind Thought STEM, a startup that teaches kids to code through immersive video games where they produce and manage virtual environments.

One of Thought STEM's signature productions is CodeSpells, a wizarding online game in which kids conjure objects and generate mystical creations, using spell books to learn the required commands. Rather than incantations like "Alohomora" and "Stupefy!" students use shows languages such as Scratch and Alice to finish their pursuits.

In the course of their adventure, students master programs concepts like looping, specifications, functions and variables abilities college undergraduates in some cases struggle to learn.

The company, established by three UC San Diego college students, is dealing with more than 500 teachers in the U.S. and around the globe, and has actually offered 40,000 coding online games to kids and their parents.

In addition, the company is working straight with 30 schools in San Diego to train instructors and bring a computer programming curriculum into the classroom.

Only 10 percent of K-12 schools provide any form of direction in computer programs, according to Thought STEM.

One huge reason: few instructors themselves know the best ways to code. Thought STEM wants to alter that by offering instructors with a curriculum and learning tools that will make direction in the subject simple for them and fun for students.

"I am in the firm belief that everyone need to learn some kind of computer literacy," stated Thought STEM co-founder Sarah Guthals, who was called one of Forbes' 30 Under 30 breakout skills in science this year for her role in bringing computer instruction to the class.

“Programming is not just about telling a computer what you desire it to do. It's also about breaking down a problem into smaller sized subsets. It's about comprehending a problem at its core and finding out the steps you have to require fixing it."

By third or 4th grade, a lot of students have the mathematics skills they need to start learning how to code, Guthals stated. "The principles aren't that difficult," she stated. But frequently the material exists in such a way that is dry and recurring instead of drawing on exactly what they know and like.

Kids' affinity for online games like Minecraft and CodeSpells provides them a natural incentive to learn, Guthals thinks. "You should not have to stop learning to do the playing and stop playing to do the learning."

Her technique could make computer class as cherished as recess and prepare a generation of technology whiz kids.