Tons of people out there claim to be good programmers—whatever that’s supposed to mean. In truth, genuinely talented programmers are very few and far between. Highly skilled programmers are in fact, so scarce that sourcing them has become a problem in industrialized countries that lack code learning programs within their school systems.

To solve this problem, there are a lot of initiatives that aim at introducing basic principles of coding at a young age. CodeSpark is a California start up that is headed in this direction, among several other projects, they’ve come up with The Foos. It’s a super fun Android game that’s free and teaches kids basic coding concepts.

What’s the point of learning to code at a young age?

This is the real dilema that affects educational institutions as well as businesses. Coding isn’t actually just knowing a few programming languages—it’s a lot more than that. In order to be an effective programmer, you need to have an initial level of background knowledge sufficient enough to find intelligent solutions to all kinds of problems. That’s where thinking skills like logical reasoning and math come into play as well as the kind of intuition that only practical experience can really give you. Knowing how to optimize your resources to find the right solution for a problem goes much further than having your name on a bunch of .NET certificates and having completed three Java workshops.

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Education isn’t just about acquiring knowledge and then spitting it out on tests. It should be about gaining skills that make students capable of using logical deduction and teach them how to face real problems with multiple complex solutions.

These skills aren’t garnered over a single coding Summer camp, or even through a Master’s degree obtained abroad. We’re talking about aptitudes that are deeply rooted in each person’s character and the only way for them to be fully linked with coding is for this skill to be learned during childhood.

How can I teach my kid to write code?

There is a basic terminology error going on here. You can’t really teach someone per se to program. But, what you can do is teach them to think in terms of algorithms and understand the skeleton that underlies the basic structure for problem solving as a whole. The mechanics behind The Foos is based on this idea. The objective within this game is to beat levels where you need to plan a sequence of actions so that your character does them later on. Each level has a different aim, and all of it is intended to get kids thinking about logical progression while continuously introducing new pieces of code.

Starting out you’ll be focusing on inserting basic sequential actions like “move one step forward” or “jump upwards.” But soon enough, kids are wrapping their heads around more hard to swallow and complex if-then structures and full on reiteration loops.

Written out like that, this game might sound more than a little dense and boring, but if you doll things up with some fancy 3D graphics and an intuitive, user-friendly interface the end result is something like that good old song; whistle while you work …

What does CodeSpark do?

The Foos is CodeSpark’s first major project; and its flagship app when it comes to alternative education solutions that can be put into place naturally within today’s schools.

In fact, their official website has all kinds of tips and tricks to get teachers using their app in classrooms as well as how to guide students into coding by sectioning off certain elements of the game into lesson plans.

The Foos is available for free on Android and iOS, even though it can also be accessed from most web browsers.

Once players beat all the levels in the game, they’ll be able to access tons of online workshops and how-to guides on Code Studio.

More information | CodeSpark Official Website

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