CodeSnaps Helps Give Kids a Tech Foundation


It's like reading, cooking, cleaning, or courtesy. When it comes to kids, start them young on all those things. Of course, these days, you could add "cell phone" to the mix. Now, how about "coding"?

Teaching programming and development concepts to kids in grades three through five is the idea behind SAS CodeSnaps, a no-cost app for schools from SAS (sponsor of this site). Using an iPad and a Sphero robot, a teacher can conduct a lesson in software development for an entire class.

The SAS Curriculum Pathways posted a Facebook video of kids at a Raleigh, N.C., elementary school using the tool. The kids set out printed paper blocks to guide the robot along a course through the classroom.

All of us have seen articles and heard discussions about the need to get more kids involved in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curricula and careers. In addition, we are all familiar with the efforts to get more high school and college students to learn programming languages.

Maybe some of the kids who use CodeSnaps will become engineers or the driving forces behind some Silicon Valley startup. That would be great for them. However, developments like CodeSnaps can have a much broader impact, getting the rest of the kids off on the right foot, whether they choose to become lawyers, doctors, teachers, or something else.

What these kids seem to be learning isn't just about how to program a robot but the thought process and the work that goes into technology. It's about why we have that technology and what we can do with it.

Technology will be a core in the lives of all these kids. If you think we're tech dependent today, imagine what the workday and home life will look like 10 or 15 years from now when today's elementary students get into the workforce. Teachers will teach readingn with tech. Lawyers will try cases with tech. Doctors will deliver healthcare with tech.

With applications and user interfaces that probably aren't even on the drawing board yet, these future adults will have one thing in common with tech users today. They will have to understand the capabilities as well as the limitations of their tech tools. That understanding will allow them to make the most of that future technology -- developed by those kids who do opt for a technology career -- to get them through their days but also to push technology to its logical limits.

James M. Connolly, Editor of All Analytics

Jim Connolly is a versatile and experienced technology journalist who has reported on IT trends for more than two decades. As editor of All Analytics he writes about the move to big data analytics and data-driven decision making. Over the years he has covered enterprise computing, the PC revolution, client/server, the evolution of the Internet, the rise of web-based business, and IT management. He has covered breaking industry news and has led teams focused on product reviews and technology trends. Throughout his tech journalism career, he has concentrated on serving the information needs of IT decision-makers in large organizations and has worked with those managers to help them learn from their peers and share their experiences in implementing leading-edge technologies through publications including Computerworld. Jim also has helped to launch a technology-focused startup, as one of the founding editors at TechTarget, and has served as editor of an established news organization focused on technology startups and the Boston-area venture capital sector at MassHighTech. A former crime reporter for the Boston Herald, he majored in journalism at Northeastern University.

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Re: Not just for kids
  • 11/30/2016 9:03:05 PM
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True, students need the right challenge to see the big picture.  Seeing that larger picture is the heart of learning and becoming more proficient, like you mentioned.

Re: Not just for kids
  • 11/30/2016 8:59:57 PM
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Maybe the age was a balance of being exposed online without letting them go too far - kinda like riding a bike but staying in the neighborhood. I had a program recently where the kids ranged from 3rd graders to high school - which made a challenge to teach, but also helped in gathering their interest into focus.

Re: Not just for kids
  • 11/30/2016 8:57:56 PM
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Me too, Michelle. Sometimes having program that let your explore your interests are essential.

Re: Not just for kids
  • 11/30/2016 8:57:13 PM
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True, and it may help parents have something to share with the children who have tech-tendencies. I know I got tired of people not understanding what I do, and I'm an adult! ;-)

Re: Not just for kids
  • 11/30/2016 3:55:35 AM
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@Michelle I would've loved to have learned programming this way. I remember my sister's fifth grade class learned Logo and there was a turtle on the screen they could manipulate to draw something. At that grade level, I remember having done a lot of flow charts—I loved doing them but having an object move around so much more rad.

Re: Not just for kids
  • 11/28/2016 1:27:49 PM
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It was interesting to learn that the program chose third to fifth graders for the project. I wonder how that was decided, and as noted in some under performing schools maybe the program would be a bit premature before increasing students' basic skills first?

Re: Not just for kids
  • 11/27/2016 5:56:47 AM
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I agree this is a great tool from SAS. Exposure to technology in this way can be very helpful at an early age. I would have liked such a thing when I was in school.

Re: Not just for kids
  • 11/24/2016 5:17:39 AM
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I believe it will enhance the total learning journey. The idea that one must master one to learn the other is shortsighted. Sometimes being exposed to a subject that requires proficiency in another can motivate and give urgency to improve on the existing deficiencies. Never underestimate students when properly challenged.

Re: Not just for kids
  • 11/23/2016 2:28:34 AM
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Learning code like this is a wonderful, hands-on activity for schools that have the basics covered.

However, if a school is underperforming on basic literacy and math, I think they should have cover those subjects before adding CodeSnap.

Not just for kids
  • 11/23/2016 1:11:12 AM
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This also might be a great way for parents to play and learn a few things themselves. (Under the guise of helping their kids with their homework.)

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