STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books

Coder Academy

Coder Academy, by Steve McManus; illus. by Rosan Magar

64 pages; ages 7 & up. Kane Miller, 2017

This week is Computer Science Education Week, a perfect time to dive into some computer coding. Part activity book, part “training manual”, Coder Academy introduces young readers to the basics of computer code. You won’t be a programmer by the end of the book, but you will have a good idea of what kinds of jobs are available in computer technology. And you’ll get some hands-on practical coding experience.

I like how Steve McManus introduces the topic: Imagine an alien came to visit. If you wanted to tell it what to do, you’s have to learn its language first. It’s similar with computers.

The first section challenges kids (and any adults reading the book) to think like a coder. There’s a great activity on binary basics – learning it is as easy as 1, 10, 11 – and a quick introduction to different kinds of programming languages.

One way to use this book is to read through, doing paper-and-pencil (aka “offscreen”) activities. Another is to get started with Scratch – a programming language available free from MIT. Following along in the book (and with a laptop or computer of some sort) you explore animation, character design, music, and even dabble around with HTML and building a website. There are some punch-out-and-build robots on the end flaps and a game at the end.

For some hands-on coding activities, head over to Archimedes Notebook.

STEM Friday

It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

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Author: Sue Heavenrich

I write about science and environmental issues for children and their families.

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