3 Ideas to Go Beyond Computer Science Education Week

Last week, educators across the country dug into Computer Science Education week. So this week, I thought I'd offer some thoughts on my go-to programming languages and ways to continue delving into computer science education all year long.

Below, you will find some of my favorite resources for three popular and easy-to-use programming languages.

Processing

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Processing is the subject of some cult-like devotion here at SparkFun. In fact, our own Derek Runberg wrote a book on Processing that is the result of our dabbling with the processing language. I often described Processing as “if C++ and Java had a baby." One of the great things about Processing is that it compiles to an executable file for Windows or an app for Mac, so your students can build stand-alone applications for their laptops. There is also a plug-in that develops apps for the Android system. Sadly, there isn't anything for iPhone right now.

To help you get started with Processing, we’ve created a Processing HotSheet full of useful tips and information. Included in the HotSheet are multiple single-sheet instructions that can be fit into a single class period of instruction. This HotSheet was designed for use with middle school students but is not limited to that age group and would fit nicely into many classrooms. Dig in and go for it!

The one suggestion I would make is that these instructions are designed for the Processing download for Windows, Mac or Linux. If you are running Chromebooks tablets or anything else that isn't a full operating system, give Open Processing a try.

JavaScript

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There's a hot debate about whether JavaScript is an actual programming language or a scripting language. I won't engage in that debate here. However, JavaScript is the back-end of much of the web and runs many of the forms and data entry tools that we find on web pages every day. As of late, JavaScript has even been ported to hardware such as the Raspberry Pi, Intel Edison and any number of embedded systems platforms.

One of the reasons I like teaching JavaScript is that it has a wonderful functionality and is fairly easy to learn. I'm a big fan of the Codecademy platform for learning JavaScript, so here's a link to get you going.

 

Python

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Python is a powerful and well-accepted programming language, most often associated with Raspberry Pi. It has taken a large place in the web and back-end applications in computer science and is often used for applications in 3D printing, data visualization, and graphics. There is a plethora of documentation for teaching Python to younger learners, and it is quickly finding a good deal of bandwidth in education.

Python.org has great resources, such as this. Additionally, there are examples and example documentation loaded into the idle environment that is part of the Python download.

We hope these resources provide some ideas on ways to take CSed week even further and make it a yearlong celebration with your students.