Robotics kits such as a Lego EV3 with its drag-and-drop programming are often perceived by parents to be a 'lesser' form of coding. In this article, we aim to dispel some common misunderstandings.
Drag-and-drop coding is easy and thus not real coding - False ❌
Computational thinking is the process of taking a complex problem, understand what the problem is and develop possible solutions. These solutions can then be presented in a way that a computer, a human, or both, can understand. We think that computation thinking should be a key learning objective when deciding to expose children to coding.
Drag-and-drop coding requires children to understand the concepts of sequencing, loops and if-else statements in the context of their problem they they are solving. It is this exposure to coding logic that we think is so important to expose your children early to.
While drag-and-drop interfaces remove the difficulties of syntax, the computational thinking component of it remains untouched. In practice, we find that younger children develop their interest in coding more when taught with a drag-and-drop interface which is frustrating.
Learning to code with the EV3 is useless because the workplace does not use the same language - False ❌
The ability to code in a language often translates to another, much of the challenge of coding is in computational thinking and problem solving, not the coding language.
The big distinction between what coding exposure is useful for children, is whether the exposure is limited only to syntax. Take basic HTML to create a website for example. That activity in our view has limited benefits being a syntax only task.
We think that exposing your child to any form of coding that incorporates computation thinking and coding logic will translate into the ability to learn any other coding language faster in the future. Ultimately, we do not have a crystal ball and will not know if popular languages such as Python will remain popular in the next decade.
Learning to code with Python is significantly harder than the EV3 - True ✔️
A text based language like Python comes with many more syntax rules be it reserved keywords or indentations. Adding an element of precision to the learning process. There has to be no mistakes for the code to work.
Above that code is also presented in a text form which makes visualizing coding logic much harder.
Learning to code with Python is superior to robotics EV3 - It depends ❔
For most, learning to code with a robotics platform like the Lego EV3 is ideal. It strikes a balance between interactivity, fun, and computational thinking. Children are often tangible leaners and understand better when they can see and touch objects. A robotics platform in unique in the ability to translate code into physical real-world movement. Most importantly, learning to code with a robotics platform helps develop and nurture interest in learning.
The exception is when a child has developed a keen interest in coding - we think introducing Python could be extremely beneficial in that situation.
The Logic Coders is a coding school for kids aged 6-16 in Singapore
Locations: City Square Mall #06-05 & Parkway Centre #13-07
We offer term-time and holiday programs using the Lego EV3 Robotics platform and Python
Learn more at: https://www.thelogiccoders.com.sg/