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I need recommendations for a programming curriculum? Does anyone have experience with Khan Academy's programming lessons? Likes or dislikes? Or is there something else you would recommend for a kid who *LOVES* video games? I would like it to be something he can do easily on his own.  

Edited by charlotteb
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I suggest the kid look on Coursera at their free MOOC courses. Many courses in Python and in many other languages and many of the courses are from top-notch universities.  Maybe some related to Games there?  

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Teen Coder by Homeschool Programming is how my CS guy got his start with "actual" programming. In middle school he started with the programmable Legos and scratch, but Teen coder was his first real class. After that he taught himself with who knows what all he found himself online. He also did an MIT Open courseware class on Python.

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Edx has classes from MIT and others. My son first learned Python at the local university. They have a STEM outreach program that offers various programs for school aged students. He was able to learn from a college professor and the price was extremely cheap. It was in partnership with 4-H, so maybe look through them as well. 

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Python Programming for the Absolute Beginner by Michael Dawson.  It is written for adults, but the conceit is that the programming assignments all involve games, so there is a fun element to the instruction.  

ETA:  AoPS also offers a great python course, but it is challenging and fast paced.  I recommend getting some experience with python first before taking the class.  

Edited by daijobu
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41 minutes ago, daijobu said:

Python Programming for the Absolute Beginner by Michael Dawson.  It is written for adults, but the conceit is that the programming assignments all involve games, so there is a fun element to the instruction.  

ETA:  AoPS also offers a great python course, but it is challenging and fast paced.  I recommend getting some experience with python first before taking the class.  


do you have any experience with AoPS Intermediate Python course? Is it a substantial setup up form their introductory course?

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1 hour ago, Roadrunner said:


do you have any experience with AoPS Intermediate Python course? Is it a substantial setup up form their introductory course?

Sacha may/probably will take it this summer (trying to decide between that and the AlphaStar USACO training program), so I may have some feedback after. I will say that, I agree with Daijobu, the beginning Python course was pretty difficult for Sacha. He had done Scratch and Mod Design I in Java when he was younger, but he still spent a lot of time on the beginning AoPS Python course. It was a year ago (he was in 4th grade), so I am concerned that he has forgotten a lot of the information in the beginning level class. Still mulling it over...

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DS14 is currently taking a Complete Python Bootcamp: From Zero to Hero in Python 3 through udemy.com that he likes and does completely on his own.  When he gets to something he's struggling with, like completing it on a Chromebook instead of a Windows PC, he Youtubes or Googles it to find his work-around.  The course price is so inexpensive it's practically free, definitely cheaper than a textbook.

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We really liked this one for dd at 10-11.  How to Code: A Step-By-Step Guide to Computer Coding https://www.amazon.com/dp/1454921773/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_jGmiEbKSPB3TH

She's following it with this one, which so far seems great: Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming https://www.amazon.com/dp/1593274076/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_EHmiEbM4E6FFW

ETA: I just realized which board I'm on. The first is probably too easy.

Edited by elroisees
Got excited. :)
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6 hours ago, Roadrunner said:


do you have any experience with AoPS Intermediate Python course? Is it a substantial setup up form their introductory course?

 

It's been too long for me to say.  I can generally say that it really helps if you've had some python experience before starting either class.

The Intro class covers basic programming principles, functions, lists, tuples, dictionaries.  It really helps if your student already knows the different data structures and loops.  

The Intermediate class covers recursion, OOP (3 weeks worth), and event driven programming.  I would get familiar with recursion and OOP before starting this class.  Both topics take a while to wrap your brain around.  

I would say the AoPS classes are great for after you've maybe already studied something briefly and want to be sure you are 100% solid on the topics.  

Edited by daijobu
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Do you need a class or does he just want to learn to program on his own.  My two older boys have been learning programming from books.  My 10yo loves electronics and is teaching himself Python from his Arduino books.  His dad is a computer programmer and can answer questions and help debug programs when needed.

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Thanks for all the recommendations everyone! It seems like there are several great programs to chose from. 
 

We need a program that we could count for a high school elective. Which ones would work best for that?

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(all the below is IMO.  I'm a career SW Engineer, fwiw)

- any of the various modern languages that are typed and have a notion of class will do fine (Java, Python, C#)..avoid scripting languages (javascipt, shell scripts).  Among the big widely-used languages, it 100% does not matter what you pick as a first language (except that the AP test is in Java, if you care).

- I strongly (very strongly) suggest that the student have access to an actual person who gives them feedback on every program. Doesn't have to be the teacher - they can go through a self-teaching or automated program to learn the syntax and get the assignments + grades - but it's really important that you have a person, who has written a good amount of code IN THAT LANGUAGE, that provides them feedback.

Why? Because programming is about reasoning, breaking down hard things into smaller things, finding commonality in ideas and 'factoring' it out, and communicating. Even when you're just learning the print and for-loop syntax. Yes, the 'grammar' of the language is confusing at first, but it is by far the easiest part of writing even modest programs. Learning how to name variables, organize code on the page, follow conventions that help readability, define functions that you can reuse, minimize odds of errors, and write code you can debug is the biggest challenge and I've yet to find a non-human process that can teach it. It's important that the person have written a decent amount of code in the student's language because each programming language has different natural and un-natural (but legal) ways of expressing things, and learning that is part of learning to program.

Learning to program w/o a human teacher is like learning to write essays w/ only a spelling and grammar checker. You can produce legal, or even correct, programs - but you won't really learn how to program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My older daughter did Funda Funda Academy’s 5-week Python classes a few years ago, and last year she did Edhesive’s AP Computer Science A (Java-based).  She enjoyed both and got a 5 on the AP exam.  She thought Funda Funda was accessible for a beginner, but she did have some prior Scratch experience.

Recently she’s been going through the Khan Academy programming for fun.  She says she’s enjoying picking up bits and pieces that she hadn’t learned elsewhere.

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