Niles-Maine District Library


Want to Write Code or Understand Networks? Start in KidSpace!

No one uses computers more extensively than middle and high school students: to learn, to communicate, and to have fun playing videogames. But, for some, that will just be the beginning: beyond this is a whole new world where kids can write code and create apps, and begin to understand how “networks” enable them go virtually anything or do virtually anything.

Learning to write program code, or learning to understand how the online world is built, means learning the language of machines or the composition of networks. Schools help promote this by exposing students to code-writing, say, or via guidelines for whether or not online resources can be trusted. But a public library also has a huge role to play in this.

That is why the Niles-Maine District Library:

• is launching a Girls Who Code group (grades 6-12) that will meet every Thursday (4 to 5 pm) from April 4 to June 6;
• has a coding camp (grades 4-6) devoted to Scratch in the summer;
• hosts events where kids play with programmable Ozobots, Lego WeDo, etc.;
• stocks up on “how to write code” books;
• offers resources which explain networks and how they work (servers, firewalls, pop-up blockers, download speeds, etc.).

Parents who encourage kids to inquire very young — say, at age 8, or at whatever age they can be trusted with alligator clips, USB cables, wire, and needle-nose pliers — might engage them with a title in the “Cool MakerSpace Gadgets & Gizmos” series: CODE IT! PROGRAMMING AND KEYBOARDS YOU CAN CREATE YOURSELF. (This is in KidSpace at J 005.133, as are all but three of the books mentioned here.) The book features Makey Makey circuit boards and writing Scratch code to animate a cartoon cat walking on the moon.

Then there’s HOW TO CODE IN 10 EASY LESSONS and CODING FOR BEGINNERS USING SCRATCH, aimed at 8- to 11-year-olds. Coding is based on connecting blocks (literally, little modular blocks onscreen) to animate characters. A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO CODING introduces Python alongside Scratch, while HOW TO CODE 2.0 is entirely devoted to Python. By page 11 of 2.0, for example, the reader has been introduced to compiling, syntax errors, Graphical User Interface, and Block Palette. By page 20 of BUILDING APPS, the reader knows the difference between HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

GIRLS WHO CODE: LEARN TO CODE AND CHANGE THE WORLD (the inspiration for our Spring 2019 launch, this is on the shelf at J 005.1023) powerfully communicates its message. On page 149, for example, Seattle Girls Who Code community members Celeste and Julie comment on how they overcame obstacles to writing Android apps. Students more interested in hardware may want to crack open the “DK Eyewitness” book COMPUTER, which maps the online world. THE TECHNOLOGY BEHIND THE INTERNET (J 004.678) also explores this space, while JOBS IF YOU LIKE … COMPUTERS (J 004.023) shows some of the careers (game developer, IT support, animator, engineer, etc.) that await talented people.

The world belongs to professionals who write code, take care of networks, and are experts in the use of specialized software: they make good money, find employment easily, and enjoy real status in our society. Some of the kids in our library will someday be those professionals. The Niles-Maine District Library is ready to do its part to help them get there, or to just learn about coding and hardware for fun.

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