Teaching Children Python-What Works?
07-21, 16:05–16:35 (Europe/Prague), South Hall 2B

We will explore the latest research on how children gain programming knowledge, how to keep them interested and excited, and how this might inform the way we support adult newcomers to programming. Practical advice and suggestions for activities will be given to attendees.

Have you ever tried to teach your kids programming? Do you have friends trying to learn as an adult? Have you ever wondered if you would have been better off learning to code earlier in life? The push for more people to learn to code has caused an explosion in the educational industry. Boot camps and certification programs of dramatically varying quality have emerged in nearly every corner of the world. These programs are often accompanied by lofty claims and promises. Children have been no exception to this, as more and more companies attempt to capitalize on the claim that children should start learning early because it's "like learning a language". However, research suggests that this might not be the most solid argument. We will be exploring:
-What benefits are there in teaching them early?
-How do children acquire programming knowledge?
-How does our language around the concepts affect their understanding?
-How do we keep their interest?
-Can the answer to these questions inform how we teach adults coming in from non-STEM fields?
This talk will focus on these questions by presenting the current data we have, in conjunction with anecdotal evidence from sessions with children and adults who code in python.

Expected audience expertise


Hi! My name is MJ, I am the founder of AstroTutors / an instructor with over a decade of experience. I am passionate about teaching python, maths, physics, problem-solving strategies, and English. My personal interests lie in pedagogy, particularly that of programming, maths, and language. I, myself, am a student of French, and Irish. I am curious about how language impacts how we learn new skills and think about complex problems.
I completed my B.S. in Physics and continued with a Master's in Nuclear Science and Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. In 2019, I moved to France, where I completed another master's in Particle Astrophysics. It was during my education that I discovered my love of python and programming. The majority of my work was in computational physics.
Since graduating, I have become a full-time educator. I have taught over 100 students python in private and group settings. I've created my own curriculum for teaching python to children which I am constantly updating in attempts to figure out how to teach python in an optimal way that is engaging and impactful. Right now, I'm working on translating it into French!