Tuesday, May 26

Intro to Computer Science & Coding for Teens

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.
We live in a digital world...and with the advent of COVID, it just became a LOT more digital! While most of us never took a computer science class in school, it is imperative that our students learn the very basics of coding. Workman Publishing has a text called Everything You Need to Ace Computer Science and Coding in One Big Fat Notebook....and it's the perfect introduction to the coding world.

Created for middle schoolers, this new addition to the Big Fat Notebook series covers key concepts, mnemonic devices, and definitions.  It uses diagrams and doodles to bring these to life so that the student has a better grasp on computer science.  There are also quizzes to help the student check in and make sure they're understanding the fundamentals.

Topics covered include:
  • Computing systems
  • Binary code
  • Algorithms
  • Computational thinking
  • Loops, events, and procedures
  • Programming in Scratch and Python
  • Boolean Expressions
  • Web development
  • Cybersecurity
  • HTML
  • CSS
We received the book just as he was finishing up an elective class, so our ninth grader used this book daily as a new elective course.  He read through the chapters and, when included, completed work on a computer.  As of this review, he has worked up to the Scratch coding - which we had already played around with a bit before this.  The chapters were fairly short, so for the first few weeks, he read through two chapters each day.  As he got into more of the hands-on coding aspect, he worked through one chapter each day.

The author is an educator who has taught computer science to all ages.  He runs an organization called Education for Code Ninjas, which teaches kids how to code, and has several years experience working with kids.  This comes out in the way that the book is set up.

  • The book was very basic.  It is easy to read and understand.
  • The author uses analogies and doodles that help the reader to really grasp the information.  
  • It is teenage-appropriate and interesting.
  • The pages are visually appealing, using lots of color and illustrations rather than just plain text.  (Our son has attention issues and was distracted by this, but everyone else in the house agreed that this is an asset to the text.)
  • Most of the book - at least the first half - is less about programming and more about the way computers work.  While we understand that students need to learn the basics, our son felt duped by the title and was not a fan of the first part of the book...
  • It touches on Scratch, Python, CSS, and HTML just enough for a student to whet his whistle, but does not go in depth into any of them enough to actually teach how to use the language.

This would be a great way to introduce students to the concepts of computer science, but should be used as a jumping off point for further exploration into the language(s) of choice.

See what others are saying about Workman Publishing at the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

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