New Games Teaches Children to Write Computer Code Creatively

11 July, 2017

A common belief is that people who write computer code must be good at math and logic. However, software engineers say that creativity is also an important quality for coding.

Software developers in the American state of California, have created a game called Osmo Coding Jam. The game is designed to help children use the creative side of their minds as they learn to code.

Children can play the game on tablets. In one activity, they make music by moving physical tiles with symbols. The tablet then reads the combination of tile symbols as commands to execute and create music.

Tanya Dodge is the mother of two children, nine-year-old Dylan and his 11-year-old sister Meghan, who play the game. According to her, these activities give them important skills for the future.

"It's an analytical skill that the kids are going to need to have as they grow up in this new era," said Dodge.

More than analytical

But the developers of Osmo Coding Jam believe writing code should be more than just an analytical skill.

"We want to explore the creative side of coding that I think is often not as explored," said Felix Hu, an Osmo engineer.

Eric Uchalik is art director and visual artist at Osmo. He said, "It (the game) kind of actually looks to LEGO® as a great example of things that kids like to build with, and so in this case instead of building a house or a castle, they're building lines of code."

LEGO®'s are toys made of building blocks that can connect together.

The artistic connection

Hu said, "the coolest part is that we're teaching kids how to be creative with code and that's a really important thing that kids should get comfortable with because coding is creative." He also sees a growing number of parents who feel that software code is a second language that children need to learn to succeed in future jobs.

Tanya Dodge, the mother of Dylan and Meghan, agrees. She said,

"I think in every aspect of at least the careers I see going forward, you're going to have to understand at some point the concept of coding."

"A big part of the way that technology is changing and becoming more engaging is because, I think, we're adding that artistic piece to it. That it's not just code and pressing buttons but the experience of it, and you can't successfully do that in my opinion without having a connection to that artistic piece," Tanya Dodge said.

Hu also explained that when children learn coding, it helps them understand how computers work.

"I think very often kids grow up not understanding how computers work or just thinking that it's like some magical device, but by breaking it down to a lower level, kids can understand that devices aren't as smart as they think they are."

"We don't want to create just workers, we want to create creators," Uchalik added.

I'm Phil Dierking.

Elizabeth Lee reported this story for VOANews. Phil Dierking adapted her report for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

Would you want your children to learn how to write computer code? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on 51VOA.COM.


Words in This Story

analytical - adj. of or relating to the careful study of something

code - n. a set of laws or regulations

era - n. a period of time that is associated with a particular quality, event, person, etc.

magic - n. tricks that seem to be impossible and that are done by a performer to entertain people

manipulate - v. to move or control (something) with your hands or by using a machine