Tynker Launches Its Visual “Learn To Code” Platform For Children

Tynker Launches Its 16 week Visual “Learn To Code” Platform For Children

Tynker, a California based education company, is launching a new platform aimed at helping kids of all ages learn to program with a 16 week course that promises both fun and learning. Unlike traditional development environments, this introductory step into the world of programming is more about giving kids a foundation in understanding the fundamentals in coding before teaching them to script.

Tynker co-founder and CEO Krishna Vedati, a parent himself, says he was inspired to start the company after being disappointed with the “learn to code” options out there for children today. “My 9-year old son went to a programming camp at Stanford. It cost $1,100,” he tells us. “They make them build a game for two weeks. He comes home and shows the game, but he doesn’t know any basics about how to build a program.

The other problem with current solutions is that they’re not focused on what the kids are actually interested in, Vedati adds. Kids are very visual and creative, and they want to tells stories early on. So Tynker lets them do that by offering things like a character builder to spark their interest. But after they create and costume their princess or zombie (or what have you), Tynker will tell them: “your princess doesn’t know how to talk,” for example.

The kids then learn a basic program for output commands, and afterwards, Tynker will prompt them to teach their character to walk. The student then learn a motion program. By the time they’re done training, they’ve learned twenty primitive programming methods. And most importantly, none of this involved writing out lines of code.

“What we found is that for Elementary and Middle school students, traditional programming (with syntax) is boring and complex,” explains Vedati. “That is probably why programming hasn’t been introduced to early learners in the past. So to reduce this complexity, we created a ‘visual’ programming language that focuses students on learning to build logic into an application,” he says.

The visual programming “language” in Tynker involves having kids grab visual code blocks which say things like “on start,” “move 10 steps,” “next costume,” “if on edge, bounce,” and more, to give you an idea. They’re the bits and pieces of an animation or game, which, when strung together, can tell a story.

Tynker involves having kids grab visual code blocks which say things like “on start,” “move 10 steps,” “next costume,” “if on edge, bounce,” and more

“In this way, [students] learn the logic and structure of programming and can see the results without having to write thousands of lines of code – boring even to some adults,” says Vedati.

The platform has earned rave reviews form beta testers at schools around the San Francisco Bay Area.

Tynker language is similar to Scratch developed at MIT in 2003, another popular programming language for beginners. It is also possible to import Scratch projects into Tynker. Like Scratch, Tynker provides a child friendly Graphical User Interface (GUI) and is browser-based not requiring any downloads. The language Tynker uses also has features that resemble those in mainstream languages like JavaScript or C, and ships with packs of “stencils” which correlate to the libraries of these real-world languages.

Tynker Launches Its Visual “Learn To Code” Platform For Children

The entire programming environment runs online in the cloud, and includes lesson plans and workflows for teachers.

Later this year, Tynker will introduce the next step up, which will bring Tynker to high schoolers, transitioning them from the visual language to code, which will have them learning JavaScript syntax and Python.

Founded around a year ago by Vedati, CTO Srinivas Mandyam, and Chief Architect Kelvin Chong, Tynker is backed by $3.25 million in funding from angels and institutional investors.
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Write by: RC - Friday, August 9, 2013

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