This article teaches you or your child to learn coding. Coding is a fantastic creative pursuit, which can lead to many exciting opportunities. It is also a touch abstracted, with everybody always talking about how important it is, while not necessarily know exactly what it is. In the simplest sense, coding is the act of mathematically representing data and systems in a way that makes sense to a computer. If that sounds scary, it needn’t be, just follow these simple steps. If you want to this in a more interactive way, try my short course to get you started.

Try P5JS Editor

P5JS (standing for P5 Javascript), is a tool created to help people get into proper coding. It is a simplified version of Javascript, which is the language used to create tools on the web. This means you can run it in your browser, without any extra software. There are also fantastic videos made by Daniel Shiffman on youtube, which teach you basics. I have also included my own short course in building a version of the classic game Pong. Remember to set up an account and save regularly.

Try out P5 JS

2. Build a game

Lots of coding courses will start by getting you to write a webpage in HTML. While this has some merits, it lacks a lot of things that draw us to coding in the first place – we want to build something that works. To do this, one can make a very simple game such as Pong, BreakOut or Snake. Doing so forces one to consider the various systems that make these games tick. Again, there are many great tutorials on youtube. However, the other option is…

3. Draw

Generative art is a very cool part of computation. You can use a computer to draw many things that you can’t do by hand. Here is my computer generated version of the minimalist artist   Carmen Herrera’s ‘Black and White’, entirely built out of simple maths. The code is HERE. Feel free to save your own version and play about with it.

    

4. Think away from the screen

Surprisingly, a lot of coding will be done away from the computer. You will find yourself considering the nature of problems when not coding and often make the best progress here. Don’t be afraid to map out ideas on a piece of paper before typing them in. This is how the best still do it.

5. Practise and get messy

Like an instrument, coding requires lots of application, but don’t fear breaking your code or messing things up. This is a crucial part of coding and debugging (fixing your code) can be horrendous. I have often had code fall apart because of a seemingly simple problem and only get fixed months later. The trick is to enjoy things, hold them lightly and always back things up.

Enjoy!

Tim Sheinman is a teacher of ICT and Computer Science, as well as a keen coder.

His company, Brighton and Hove Tutor teach coding, as well as all academic subjects.

Here is a link to his online course in creating the classic game Pong.

Photo by Chris Ried on Unsplash