When today’s students enter the future workforce, there will be significantly more technology jobs than ever before, and a vast majority of students will need to be equipped with computer science skills to be successful in their careers. Coding and programming have become essential skills that students will need to be prepared for their future jobs––many of which don’t even exist yet! The time to learn to code is now, and the need for free coding resources is urgent!
With computer science and technology being such a crucial part of student’s future success, it’s important that every student receives equitable access to programs and resources that can help them build their coding and programming knowledge early on. Exposure to coding resources increases student interest in computer science and technology careers and provides them with foundational knowledge that they can improve and refine as their education progresses to be successful in these future professions.
As important as it is for students to learn about computer science, there are many barriers that limit students’ ability to access the resources they need to learn. For some students, device and internet connectivity limitations keep them from being able to utilize computer- and web-based programs. Another barrier that reduces access to computer science education is the cost of these programs, which students, families, or schools are not always able to afford. Luckily, there are many free coding resources that students can use to build their computer science skills both in school and at home.
To help you guide your students to learn about computer science and technology, we’ve compiled this list of 10 free coding resources for students:
Amazon Future Engineer is a childhood-to-career program that aims to increase access to computer science education for children and young adults from underserved and underrepresented communities. The program offers opportunities to explore computer science and technology through content centered around the processes at Amazon’s Fulfillment Centers and by connecting schools with career talks led by Amazon tech professionals. Amazon Future Engineer has also pledged to offer free access to CoderZ’s virtual robotics learning modules to up to 100,000 students in Title 1 schools.
Blockly offers a simple and engaging way to introduce kids to coding. Students can complete eight different interactive challenges such as puzzles, mazes, creating music, and more. To complete each challenge, students utilize drag-and-drop blocks of code that become increasingly complex with each level of the challenge. Children can run their program anytime while they are creating it, enabling them to visualize what they are coding and how to utilize the tools they have been given to solve each challenge.
The Amazon Cyber Robotics Challenge transports students into an Amazon warehouse where they get to put computer science into action. Powered by CoderZ’ challenge is a 3-hour virtual tour with gamified coding challenges and collaborative activities using a virtual Amazon Hercules robot. After completion of the challenge, students also have access to a live virtual field trip of an Amazon Fulfillment Center, which shows them how coding and robotics are applied daily by Amazon engineers.
Scratch is the world’s largest free coding community for kids, designed by the Scratch Foundation, a nonprofit organization. With Scratch, students can program interactive stories, games, and animations––then share their creations with others in an online community. This platform was developed to help young people think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively. Younger students can also get inspired to engage with programming through the free ScratchJr app.
Code.org is a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools and increasing participation by young women and students from other underrepresented groups. The organization inspires students to try programming each year with Hour of Code, which offers one-hour beginner coding tutorials in over 45 languages. Code.org also provides mini-lessons, videos, fun tutorials, and projects to help students learn computer science at home.
MIT App Inventor is a visual programming environment that allows all ages of learners to build fully functional apps for Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. This blocks-based coding program was developed by a team at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab to inspire and empower all people––especially young people––to be creative with technology. The easy-to-use coding environment facilitates the creation of complex, high-impact apps in significantly less time than other coding environments.
Swift is a programming language created by Apple and used by professionals to build apps for use on Apple devices. With the Swift Playgrounds app, students are able to learn Swift through an engaging and fun set of challenges. Starting with the “Fundamentals of Swift” lesson, students can create programs with real-world applications for app development, and as they progress in their learning, they’ll learn more advanced concepts through puzzles, challenges, and completing levels in the app.
Unity is a real-time 3D development platform that professionals use to create immersive experiences across industries, and it is free to students ages 13 and up who are enrolled in an accredited educational institution. This revolutionary software is one of the top platforms in the industry for creating, operating, and monetizing games and experiences across multiple platforms. Students can learn real-world game development skills while collaborating with one another to create actual games and experiences.
This list offers just a handful of free coding resources out of the many free resources available online that students can take advantage of to build their computer science abilities. Not only do these resources offer comprehensive lessons and valuable practice in a variety of programming languages and applications, but they also provide a fun and intellectually stimulating outlet for students.
Free coding resources are more widely accessible to underserved and underrepresented students and communities, making it possible for almost anyone to engage in these educational opportunities. In the long term, this helps to create a more diverse community of future computer science professionals.
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For Parkland Magnet MS’ teachers, CoderZ offers up real-world applications that help students actually see how what they’re learning is applicable in the real world—even though it’s only in a computer simulation.
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