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Is there a structured programming or robotics course for a STEM-minded 8th grader?


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So my rising 8th grader is showing interest in all things programming, robotics, physics etc and I thought for science this year we would focus on technology of some sort since he's completed all the usual middle school science offerings. My dilemma is that most of the resources are not very 'open and go' - rather they are a conglomerate of amazing you tube videos or websites where you have to purchase multiple different components and piece together a year of study on your own. 🙈 I'm just not a piecer! Lol


DS (13) loves structure and he would enjoy a format where there are clearly laid out lessons/assignments and projects.


I don't mind buying a supply kit (he already has a raspberry pi and some other components) but I don't want to have to figure out what he's going to be doing all year with this mashup of components - this subject is very much NOT my liberal arts major brain's thing 😂


DH is up on all things technology and computing and can assist but he is so busy during the work/school week that we've decided it's not best for him to be responsible solely for this subject. He can troubleshoot and help out but not plan, schedule, and teach.


Does such a course or curriculum exist? Can it be less than $500 too? (I've seen some super pricey options! 😳)

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We have friends who are really into the robotics club at 4-H.


We actually do have a local homeschool robotics team, but the time commitments are fairly extreme and would interfere with his swim team commitments. We still may put swim on hold one semester just to try it out, but I don't want to do that just yet.

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If you're open to electronics vs. specifically robotics or programming, it might be worth taking a look at The Edison Project by Quick Study Labs. 




The classes are low-cost, easy to follow, and the instructor (Joel Phillips) is wonderful. My daughter took one of his courses a couple of years ago and I was really impressed by how closely he followed her progress, personally encouraged her, and provided detailed technical responses to her questions via email. He's clearly passionate about electronics and about teaching. We haven't pursued further courses as we have a full plate with our curriculum these days, however, the experience we had at the time was outstanding.

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Look at the computer science classes from Edhesive.


When I looked at this it seems like they want to still use me as the instructor (even without any skill set) - which is an inexpensive option but probably not the best dynamic for our family. Unless I'm missing something?

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When I looked at this it seems like they want to still use me as the instructor (even without any skill set) - which is an inexpensive option but probably not the best dynamic for our family. Unless I'm missing something?


The term that Edhesive used when my son was enrolled was coach.  I think that is closer than instructor.  I did not teach the computer science topics.  I did have a copy of the coach packet, which included sample program solutions, extra quizzes and solutions to the quizzes.  


My son would watch the video instruction, work through the programming assignments until he got the assigned outcome, then we would compare with the sample programming code to see if there had been a more elegant solution.  


There is also a forum for students with TAs who understand the programming.  There is another forum for coaches.  The questions on the coaches side ranged from how do you program this to how do you grade this.  There were many coaches who were school teachers who did not have personal programming experience.  I think there is a lot of possibility of support in this course.  On the other hand, the deadlines are all soft recommendations, not hard deadlines.  Grading is done by the coach, not Edhesive.  So it may not be what you are looking for.  


My son did this junior year.  He got behind in the course when we moved mid year, and had to do a lot of cramming before the exam.  He learned a lot about programming and earned a 4 on the AP exam.  


Another activity he got a lot out of was doing the Cyber Patriot computer security competition.  The structure of how these teams are set up varies from team to team, but there is a lot of potential.  You might see if there is a homeschool team in your area.

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I was a computer programmer back before kids, so I'm not a total newbie, but still a newbie to much of today's technology!


I just recently did the Edhesive Intro to CS course with my DS10. It was good, and I really liked some of the assignments. Nice challenges for him, and then a solution was given (in the teacher packet), and it was helpful to be able to compare our solutions with hers. It was a good start for us, albeit not cheap (maybe $150, which is cheap in some respects, but still I wanted cheaper).



- Incremental

- Not babyish, but also not too fast-paced for a kid

- No need to set up any kind of development environment - it was all done via a website.

- Forums to post questions (for both teacher and student) (we didn't actually use them but could have)



- Some of the units I didn't care much about (e.g., a unit on digital music, misc sections about "career connections" where they talked about careers within comp sci, etc.) - I really just wanted lots of programming instruction, not this extra stuff

- Some of the units pointed the student to outside websites to do their projects - which is okay, but technically we could have done that without the class.

- Costs $150+, IIRC

- I *think* the teacher/parent can't totally control the pace of the class. I'm not sure about this, but it seems like they work on a school year schedule, and the class units are "opened" at certain points during the year. If your student works faster than that, I'm not sure they can access the next unit. It might go by semesters (e.g., they open the first semester Aug 1, second semester Jan 1), but I think if a student works fast and completes semester 1 by Nov 1, he has to wait two months for the next semester to become available. We ended up not registering until February for the Intro class, so all units were already opened up at that point so it hasn't been a problem for us. However, the years ends on June 30, so even though we didn't get the class until Feb, we have to be completely finished by June 30th. That isn't a problem for us (though I definitely had to prioritize the class to make sure we get through it all in time), but having a hard date like that is just kind of annoying (esp because we school year-round and I don't like being tied to anyone else's school year, lol). (Incidentally, this weird scheduling is why I went ahead and registered in Feb instead of waiting for their new school year to being in Aug - I didn't want to be stuck waiting for the second semester.)


Now that we are finishing up the Intro class I'm looking for other opportunities and found a couple of awesome classes on Udemy for $10 each, for lifetime access!!! (Use coupon code FATWALLETU *today* to get those prices - I think that deal ends tonight!) I think Udemy can be very hit-or-miss in terms of quality of instruction, but I have found two courses in Python (the same language taught in the Edhesive Intro class) which so far DS and I are really enjoying and learning a lot from. Some of it is review, of course, but much is new, and even the review has proven helpful for DS. The two classes I can recommend so far are:

Complete Python Masterclass (Tim Buchalka) (36 hrs of instruction)

The Complete Python 3 Course (Joseph Delgadillo) (18 hrs of instruction) (seems less "polished" than Tim above, but still really good)


The instructors both explain things really well, and as the course progresses they introduce projects/challenges and model how they would do them (you can pause the video and work it out yourself first - that is what we do). They are so good and we are both learning so much!


I also bought this one, but haven't started it yet since I'm just wanted DS to focus on Python for now. But I bought it because the instructor looks really competent and I am interested in a lot of the technologies he teaches. So, I haven't viewed it yet, but am just mentioning it as another one to consider:

The Web Developer Bootcamp (Colt Steele) (43 hrs of instruction)


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