DevelopMENTAL Madness

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Microsoft VS Middle School Power Toy 1.0

I just read an announcement today about Microsoft Visual Studio Middle School Power Toy 1.0. I've always been interested in passing on my love for programming to my kids. I have a 9-year-old who I'd like to introduce to programming in a simple way, but I'm not sure this is quite the tool for the job.

While I'm sure this could be a good tool for a child who is already interested in programming and want's to start writing code, I'm not sure this is the kind of tool to introduce programming. As I read the overview, the features discuss learning algorithms and program flow - not real interesting stuff. IMHO, I believe that you've gotta show them what kind of stuff you can do - big picture things. Then once you've got them, start them on something like this as a way to learn the basics in a hands on, intuitive way.

But being introduced to sorting algorithms is not a way to get them interested. Of course, that may not be the goal of this tool. And my daughter may not quite be middle school yet. So that may be the problem there. But I would certainly be interested about anyone who knows of a good way to introduce programming to kids - something that will help them get the bug.

I know for me, when I was young I got my hands on a book which I have no idea what the language was. I was able to get 2 programs running on my dad's computer, both dealing with random numbers - a magic eight ball program and a "pick a door" game. After that I forgot about programming until I caught the bug again with Excel macros. From there I dug into VBA and now here I am.

Anyway, if anyone who stumbles on this has some good recommendations, I'd love to hear them.

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