Learning to Program Can Help in the Development of Children?

Earlier this week, the BBC released for free for 1 million young Britons micro: bit, a small computer packed with sensors that assists children in learning programming. The program is very interesting, and it is a curious proposal to develop the education of young people in the area.

Outwardly, the micro: bit looks a bit like the Raspberry Pi, being a small computer with thousands of utilities. But according to the BBC, the idea came from long before: he has this name because of the BBC Micro, a computer created in the 1980s to encourage children to enter the computing world (!). The micro: bit is a legacy of this machine.

The proposal of the British public broadcaster is to inspire young people from 7 years to produce creative digital works, developing skills in science, technology and engineering.One of the motivations for this project was the decline of the technology sector in the UK, it needs more trained professionals.

With the initiative, the question arises: is a good idea to distribute this equipment for children? What it actually contributes to the learning of a young? And last but not least: the BBC project can inspire this million children? Spoiler: yes.

Knowing the Micro: Bit

What exactly this computer is special to be considered a great opportunity to change the way children interact with technology? Well, it is meant to be easy and fun to use, looking at the kind of young man who likes a toy that challenges their capabilities.

Sinead Rocks, head of BBC Learning, the company’s learning division, says it is the BBC’s most ambitious educational initiative in 30 years. “The micro: bit is on young people learn to express themselves digitally. We give children brushes to paint them, even without any experience. It should be the same with the technology, “he says.

Measuring only 4 × 5 cm, the micro: bit is really a digital playground for children and can play all kinds of activity. It connects with tablets, computers, Arduinos, Raspberry Pis and various other modules and devices.

In an ambitious comparison, Rocks says the micro: bit can affect the internet industry of things as far as the BBC Micro affected the gaming industry at the time.

Its specifications include 25 LEDs in red to display messages, two main buttons to be used in games (or even to move / pause music on your smartphone), accelerometer and motion detectors. You can turn on the lights when something is moved within a game, for example.

Although the micro: bit does not include a GPS module (but it is possible to couple one in five input and output rings), it has a compass that indicates the direction, the movement and position where you are. Included with the magnet, it is also possible to detect certain types of metals.

Finally, the device also comes with Bluetooth low energy expenditure, made especially for small appliances. Can you connect it with basically any device with technology, making the micro: bit take pictures remotely, for example. You can also build a guitar that plays louder if you stir more, a goal that increases score if something touches him or even a potted plant that is watered as it gets drier.

West Yorkshire school students, for example, held the micro: bit of a helium balloon and made him climb to a height of 32 kilometers, reaching the stratosphere. Computer sensors collected data such as temperature, and an attached GPS module enabled they found the micro: bit when he returned to Earth.

To use it, children can access microbit.co.uk and direct programming of the site, or download the app for Android or iOS. The project has help large companies such as ARM, Microsoft and even Samsung.

The Benefits of Programming

All right, the initiative is interesting, but what exactly is the practical effect of this project on people’s lives? Children need to learn to program truth or should only have a basic understanding of codes? Whichever way people defend the consensus is that awareness of the digital media needs to increase.

How to defend some people, programming is kind of a universal language, and therefore increases the communication capacity and expression of citizens. It’s not like a specific language, which is understood only by those few countries (or a single country).

The main argument to teach code to children is that it can improve logical thinking of them, a computational bias. “Computational thinking teaches you to solve big problems by breaking them into a sequence of smaller problems and easier to manage,” says the Guardian.

Not that the children were to learn advanced languages ​​like PHP or C ++, but a thought structure that make them understand how programming works basis. Break, this can help them get a better sense of personal computing and the Internet.

In an interview with BBC, Steve Hodges, a Microsoft engineer who worked on the micro: bit, says all his computing career was thanks to the BBC Micro. “I begged my parents tobuy one. I said I would never ask anything if they bought, “he recalls.

In the UK, experts say that the project may not work the way the BBC hoped because of delays to the micro: bit took to reach the market in relation to the school year. It is understandable, after all, a project to such a large scale had to undergo months of testing before reaching the final product.

There, may depend on the teachers of the selected schools to encourage and guide students to correctly use the micro: bit. But why not a Raspberri Pi? According to Steve, the micro: bit is easier to understand and “attracts students to have contact with a tactile learning style” to see the code in a more appealing way.

It is inevitable that the program plays a key role in technology, but some argue that not all are interested in this (because it is a profession like any other) and therefore should not be something compulsory in the curriculum of schools.

By being an affordable initiative, and because only those who really have interest begin to take seriously the schedule, it seems an interesting proposal. Rather than, for example, treating programming as chemical or physical, that many students have difficulties in learning.

It may be that this high availability of programming teaching help children find their true passion, but it is important that the subject (which is more difficult than normal) is not approached in a tiring way, or make young people more hate the theme.

Countries like the United Kingdom already have several initiatives in addition to those of the BBC, to stimulate the development of programming. The Year of Code, for example, aims to teach people who have never had contact with program code.

You think it’s important that children learn to program?