Thursday, April 04, 2013

Review: Computer Science for Kids

Computer Science for Kids has been in business for over 25 years, and they offer computer programming courses for beginning programmers.  The Schoolhouse Review Crew was offered two titles to review:  Computer Bible Games for Microsoft Small Basic  or Beginning Microsoft Small Basic.  These are recommended of ages 10 and up.  We reviewed the e-book version of Beginning Microsoft Small Basic.

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Like many children today, Luke has a strong interest in programming.  He's had some experience with different programming languages, and seems to have a knack for it.  When the opportunity to review this program came up, I had Craig and Luke check out the website, and they both thought there would be something to be learned by going through the course.  Luke was thrilled to have "Computer Programming" on his daily school list.

There are 11 chapters (classes) in Beginning Microsoft Small Basic, and in the e-book version are available as both Word and PDF files.  Beginners should be able to complete these at the rate of about 1 class per week, spending about 3 to 6 hours with the material.  The course begins with an introduction to Small Basic, including instructions on how to download and install Small Basic.  From there, the student is introduced to Small Basic programming and begins to create programs.

Programs start out simple (basic number/text output), and the student builds on that foundation until they are able to create programs that run a stopwatch, a loan calculator, and a state and capital multiple choice quiz. The course is self-paced, and the student reads the chapter and works through the examples by typing in the code to see how it works.  You can check out a sample chapter here, and you can view screen shots here.  If a student gets stuck, there are completed program files for every program in the course.

As I mentioned, Luke has had some previous programming experience, though I would still classify him as a beginner.  He's never worked with Small Basic before.  That said, he found this course to be very easy.  He was able to complete the entire course in under 3 weeks without any help from me.  Luke enjoyed working through the program and I was glad to have him work through a systematic course, since much of what he has learned in the realm of computer programming is self-taught.

Both the Beginning Microsoft Small Basic e-book and the Computer Bible Games for Small Basic e-book are regularly priced at $59.95.  However, through July 4th, 2013, they are on sale for $34.95.  If you have a beginner computer programmer in your house, I would absolutely check these books out.

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For more reviews of Computer Science for Kids, visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew.


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