Coding: Where to Begin

Written by Alexandra Iaquessa |

The age of computers is upon us. Not only have computers become a necessity in our everyday lives, but they will be even more important in the future. As computers have grown, the number of people who have an interest in them has risen as well. Here at the Morgan School, we have classes for people who are into music and even engineering. But what is missing are classes catering to those who want to learn more about computer science. I have been interested in this subject since 9th grade, but since there were no classes, I had no idea where I could start learning about it. I had to start off at the beginning with some good old fashion motivation and a lot of research. My hope is to tell anyone that is intrigued by this topic, that there are ways to learn about computer science even if you have to do it on your own.

When first getting into Computer Science, you may do everything in your power to avoid actually sitting down and doing research. I sure did, and it is not a bad thing. Who wants to sit down and research terms and code all day when you can play games instead? There are educational computer science games available for coding. Coding is when you write a stream of letters and numbers to create software, applications, and websites for systems. Coding is very fun and a little difficult.

A game I suggest is CodeCombat. In this interactive game, you write code to move your warrior across paths to avoid or fight enemies. Though it may seem childish, the point of the game is to learn code. It starts off simple and slow which makes it very easy to follow. It walks you through everything you need to know. If you try this game, and you cannot get into it, you can go onto CSisfun.com. Here, you can find all different games to play. They have games for logic, and coding, and binary. But even then if you do not see what you like, just search on the internet.

Next would be the boring step. Boring Research(ahh!) but important nonetheless. When you are in the middle of a game or even just looking something up, you may find a word you do not know. You may not understand what an algorithm is or even what the OSI model is. You need to look up what things are in the beginning, or you will be even more confused later.

Finally, when you think you understand coding and terms, and you have played all the games available to you, it is time to apply what you learned and do some coding on your own.  It is understandable if you fear you will do something wrong and your computer will end up with 100 popups and burst into flames. Fear not, for there is another way. 

Just recently I started applying my knowledge of computer science on the Raspberry Pi 3. What is a Rasberry Pi3? It is a little PC. I plug it into my television (or any monitor), start it, and up pops an interactive user interface. It looks exactly like any computer. It has a start screen, programs to click on, and I can even change my background photo. When I go to the start menu, it presents me with different games that are offered through the device for learning Linux, Python, and other coding languages. The perk of the Raspberry Pi is that I can do whatever I want without the fear of ruining my device. I  can wipe the whole thing clean and start fresh if there is ever a problem. The best perk is the price. The one I have cost around 70 dollars. I do not know any computer that costs 70 dollars, and if you find one, I recommend that you do not buy it. The Raspberry Pi is a safe and interactive way to apply your knowledge without destroying your family computer.

As hard as it may seem to get started learning the basics of computer science, or really anything, you have to start off at the beginning. Take baby steps, and through research and games and that awesome motivation, you can learn to do anything.

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