The skills involved in programming are in many ways a lesson in life. Coding requires both logical and creative thinking which in turn lead to a greater ability to solve problems. Technology is shaping our world and our future and understanding computers and coding is a great way to engage with that future. Tynker, a California based education company, aims to teach your kids programming using a visual platform and is targeting 8 to 14 year olds with a 16 week course that promises both fun and learning.

With $3.45 million in funds raised from angel and institutional investors, Tynker for Schools was launched in April this year and was followed by Tynker for Home within a couple of months. Teachers and parents alike share our vision of enabling children to learn programming so they can become makers for the digital age,” said Krishna Vedati, cofounder and CEO of Tynker, “Since launching Tynker for Schools to unprecedented demand, the most common request from students and parents was for a version of Tynker that could be accessed at home. So we significantly advanced our release schedule and are introducing Tynker for Home so kids can begin discovering and learning programming skills in their own homes and share their pursuits in real-time with their parents.”

Vedati’s mission with Tynker is to give kids a foundation in understanding the fundamentals in coding before teaching them to script. According to an earlier interview given to TechCrunch, he came up with the plan after his son returned from a coding camp at Stanford where he had learned how to code a flash-based game without being made to understand any of the whys and wherefores behind his creation.

Having achieved significant uptake and positive feedback from both parents and teachers with Tynker for Schools, and seeing kids forming their own coding groups to learn and have fun with his program outside of school hours, Vedati contacted Dave McFarland, well known for his Javascript and CSS programming books, to create a home-based version of Tynker. Together they formulated the Introduction to Programming course comprising of 16 weeks of tutorials covering programming basics, though with a clear focus on games and interactive media. Tutorials include “playing sounds,” “moving characters,” “animation,” “handling keyboard and mouse events,” “collision detection,” and “keeping score.”

Tynker is similar to the visual programming language and multimedia authoring tool Scratch developed at MIT in 2003. It is also possible to import Scratch projects into Tynker. Like Scratch, Tynker provides a child friendly Graphical User Interface (GUI) and is browser-based not requiring any downloads. It is therefore tablet friendly, essential in this day and age as kids spurn laptops and PCs for handheld computing and more schools introduce “bring your own device” schemes into classrooms.

Referencing information on Code.org, only 10 percent of schools in USA have computer programming as part of their curriculum and across the States only 2 percent of college students graduate with computer science degrees. They are predicting a shortfall of a million programmers over the next 10 years.

In my opinion, computer coding should be a second language taught in every school around the world. In my day we took Latin or German because it was considered that learning these languages not only gave you cultural knowledge but also helped you to structure your thinking. The situation has changed over the past 50 years and schools need to adapt.

Organizations and companies like Tynker, Terrapin Software, Lego Education Academy, Treehouse, Codecademy, Gamestar Mechanic and languages like Snap! and the aforementioned Scratch are making inroads to improve the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math skills of today’s youth and prepare them for modern day living. Keeping up with these new developments certainly seems the smart thing to do for parents and teachers alike.

Sources: Tynker, Code.org, TechCrunch