Last summer, one of our friends presented us with an exciting challenge of introducing coding to their two middle school girls.
As software engineers, we have mentored several interns, new grads, and junior engineers over the years in both big and small tech companies.
However, teaching a middle schooler needs a totally different lens.
We started with a couple of kids coding books as reference for our lessons. But soon got disappointed with the “just in case” teaching style of these resources. A style where the authors do a brain dump of all the features with little or no real-world context, just in case!
That’s no bueno, and here’s why.
The content does not help kids see the big picture: the what, why, where, when, and how of coding.
Coding, when taught in a problem-solving context called “Computational Thinking,” opens up new doors of opportunities for children. Sadly, the books and online coding courses we reviewed do not emphasize this.
Most coding resources lack a simple, holistic, and structured approach essential for beginners.
So, to help the girls, we prepared bite-sized lessons from scratch as a series of mini-projects. We tried to keep things fun and simple.
Our goal was to build a strong foundation of core concepts and to spark their imagination by showcasing the power of coding but without scaring them. It is a delicate balance.
The initial few weeks were bumpy. The girls and we went through a roller coaster of emotions from confusion to frustration to astonishment to happiness to wonder: the whole spectrum!
A few weeks into the course, the girls surprised us with a remarkable transformation.
They went from having no reference to coding concepts to be able to:
- Identify the basic building blocks of coding.
- Connect the dots by putting together their final project from the mini-projects we did throughout the course.
They made ‘turtles race to the finish line’ in their final project, thus marking the end of our course, but that was only the beginning of their coding journey.
Big kudos to the girls for sticking with the program, doing their homework on time, and providing valuable feedback. This year, the girls are flexing their problem-solving muscle by signing up for more coding classes. We wish them all the success.
The girls are the true heroes in this story!
Finally, we would like to commend our friends for fostering their daughters’ interest in coding and encouraging them to explore further.
Who are we?
We are coders by profession and foodies by obsession.
We are music and succulent plant lovers and, more importantly, parents of two wonderful boys. We live in and love our sunny San Diego (womp womp – cloudy today as we write this).
We are two complementary personalities with one passion:
To help children develop their problem-solving skills by teaching them to code, so they become the creators and not just consumers of technology.
What Are We Doing And Why?
This whole teaching exercise was both humbling and rewarding. It challenged us and forced us to unlearn things we took for granted and go back to the basics to teach the ways of coding; to the beginner’s mind.
The transformation we saw in the girls was powerful.
The experience also underscored our belief that making mistakes, breaking things, feeling frustrated, clueless, and confused are all as much a part of learning (and teaching) to code as coding itself.
With a little dose of hard work, perseverance, and a right mix of pedagogy, anybody can learn to code.
The AHA moments and the smiles we saw during the course were priceless.
There are millions of teens and tweens out there who are looking to start their coding journey, and we want to be part of their AHA moments.
Coding and problem-solving skills open doors to opportunities and entrepreneurial possibilities for our youth.
Catching them early, helping them shape their future is such a meaningful and fulfilling endeavor; It just makes us happy.
The initial challenge has now turned into an opportunity to help. So, Bitsy Bytesy was born.
Bitsy Bytesy is a platform where we share our coding lessons and the key lessons we learn along the way. This stage serves not only as an outlet for our creative self-expression but also the one to inform, educate, and connect.
When we told our elder son about this project, he wanted to help.
So, he got tasked to draw the social media icons for the site. Hope you like them
Our three-year-old helped monkey test the website by randomly clicking here, there and everywhere to make sure the site does not crash! If you are reading this, then he has done an excellent job.
This project has become a complete family affair!
Get in Touch.
If you are a parent and made it this far, then you highly value your child’s education. Please share our python starter course with your child. She or he could be the hero of our next story.
If our teaching style resonates with you, then please like us, share this or shoot an email to say “yellow.” Share your thoughts or ask your questions. We would love to hear from you.
Together, we can build a circle of success for your children.