Fun and Accessible Computer Science Tools for Kids

Laura is a writer and recent Cambridge graduate with particular experience in the area of education technology. She has worked with a variety of different education companies and is active in the 'edtech' community on Twitter, so she prides herself on always being in touch with the latest developments and exciting new tools in e-learning.

Computer Science can sound pretty daunting, particularly if you don’t know a lot about the subject, and it is often thought of as the preserve of ‘geeks’ or particularly intelligent students. The idea that it is particularly difficult can put off students who might actually have a real natural ability for the subject, which is a great shame, so finding accessible tools to help them explore and get to know the subject from an early age is a great way to avoid it becoming something feared! And with everything becoming ever more internet orientated, it has never been more useful to provide students with some simple computer science skills from a young age, which will stand them in excellent stead for the future.

Here are some great introductory resources to get them hooked!

 

1. Computer Science in a Box

This brilliant resource from the National Center for Women and Information Technology is a genius way to reassure students who are worried about approaching computer science because they aren’t too confident about their computer skills… because it doesn’t require any. At all. In fact, the course doesn’t even involve a computer! It takes all the concepts and skills involved and explores them in an unplugged environment. Aimed at students aged 9-14, the idea is to explain how computers work and to explore the science concepts behind them, including algorithms, number systems and manipulating variables and logic.

2. Computer Science for Fun

More of an informative than a teaching website, this tool is nonetheless a great way for kids to explore and learn more about the fundamentals of computer science, as well as understanding fun and exciting ways to put them into practice. As a global campaign aiming to enthuse students about computer science, it includes free resources for teachers, a webzine, live interactive shows and a range of fun classroom activities.

 

3. Computational Fairy tales

This awesome blog explains the concepts of computer science through fairy tales (yes really!) Posts are broken down by topic and level, making it easy to find the right fairy tale to share with your students depending on their level, experience and ability.

 

4. Engineer Girl

One major barrier to involvement in computer science and similar fields for some students is the ongoing perception that the subject is somehow better suited to boys than it is to girls. Luckily there are fantastic sites and resources working to combat these outdated stereotypes, like Engineer Girls, which is designed to showcase the exciting opportunities available to girls and women in STEM fields. It includes interviews with female engineers, showcases of cool historical figures and practical advice for girls on how to get into engineering and pursue it as a career.

 

Have you found useful tools to introduce your students to Computer Science? Share them with us and other educators in the comments below.

 

Feature image courtesy of Flickr, SirMo76.