Open source programs to get more kids to code

Next up was Alice meant for kids ages 8 and up. This site uses a story telling type of learning to program. For some reason boys don’t seem to like Alice very much (they’re not really sure why since the kids can use aliens and spaceships in their stories). Using Alice you can drag and drop objects in to your scene/story and when you do it pops up windows where you enter properties for the items. Once you have your scene set up you can edit the code by clicking on the object (your alien for example), but the edit screen is not your standard ‘code’ view, instead it’s friendly to kids by giving them pull down menus of actions.

Greenfoot is meant for slightly older kids (12+), but works similarly to Alice. The code editor in this shows you the Java with a bit of color coding (unlike the other tools that showed code in easy to use bubbles). Greenfoot is actually just a visual interface on top of BlueJ.

Another option is to use Mindstorms, which walks kids through creating a robot and programming the “brain.” Mindstorms is great for kids age 8 and up.