A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this downloadable application and corresponding website are a generally safe way for kids to learn a few programming basics. They'll be able to read about programming language, test simple examples using the application, and can then extend their knowledge by trying to create their own simple programs to perform actions like drawing a shape or asking a question. Users don't need to register to use the application, but if they want to post questions or share programs they've created, they'll need to enter a username, password, and email address. No age limit or verification is required.
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What's it about?
The HACKETY HACK application provides detailed information on understanding and writing simple programming code using the Ruby programming language, created in 1995 by a programmer in Japan. Kids can read what steps to take and then test them out by copying and pasting examples from the text. They can read the same lesson information on the website and application and can also post programming instructions they've created or questions and responses for other users on the site.
Is it any good?
Hackety Hack provides clear, fairly easy-to-understand programming instruction. Users learn general programming tips and find out how to write a few types of coding instructions using Ruby, a simplified programming language created more than 15 years ago. Kids probably won't be able to create their own website after using the site or application, but the information they learn can be used to help them understand a little bit about programming -- and enhance their reading, logic, and other critical thinking abilities.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what other actions, like homework or household projects, can be divided into a series of tasks, like programming. How could that make them easier to complete?
Programming involves communicating commands in a specific order. What other examples can your kids think of that echo that process in real life? Can you see any connection between conveying information clearly in programming and communicating with other people verbally or through writing?
Ask your kids what learning techniques made the most sense on the site. Is it easier to understand new concepts when visual examples are included? Does reading about new information help?
For kids who love computers and tech
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