Getting Started with Programming - Tips to kickstart your programming skills Getting Started with Programming - Tips to kickstart your programming skills
Interested in learning how to program but don't know where to start?

Block Programming might be right for you. Block programming tools like Scratch, Makecode.com, Code.org, and others have distilled down basic programming functions into code snippets represented as visual blocks. These blocks can be placed and connected to each other to create block based programs. The user can click, drag and drop the code blocks into the workspace to begin creating a full fledged program, no prior programming experience required.

Block programming is the real deal and has gained traction in recent years as a part of an overall effort to help introduce programming skills to a broader audience. More and more workers with computer training and programming skills are expected to continue to be in demand for the foreseeable future.

Even though block programming isn't a new concept, contemporary block programming tools usually include functionality that allows one to switch back and forth between the visual blocks and the corresponding text code. Taking this approach to learning programming allows students to focus on the functional programming concepts while avoiding struggling with complex and sometimes counter intuitive syntax.

In effect, these tools can serve as a sort of Rosetta stone allowing students and novices to see the text code interpreted from the blocks they've placed and through that process help bridge the gaps between the learning of programming concepts vs. learning of programming syntax.

And on the point learning difficult syntax...if you are looking for a easy but powerful programming language to learn, Python's syntax uses English keywords and formatting instead of punctuation, which helps make the language more conversational and readable - which in turn makes Python more intuitive and relatable for up and coming coders. Python has a massive community and is used by hobbyists and company enterprises alike. In the last few years Python consistently moved up the ranks with it becoming the the most popular programming language in 2019 and is poised to continue its popularity into the near future.

For a super powered combination, find a Python based based block coding tool like EduBlocks.org which will get you programming right away and allow you to progressively learn the language syntax as you continue to use it. This quick start aspect of block programming coupled with the wide popularity and ease of Python makes this powerful and effective way to kick start and/or level up your programming skills all at once.

If you are looking to learn more about block programming, Hacker Lab offers courses like Intro to Circuit Playground which uses Makecode.com to program the Adafruit Circuit Playground Express micro-controller.

About Curtis Soldano: 
Curtis Soldano is a long time technologist, tinkerer and maker who wants to share his excitement for using cool tech to make cool stuff. He has been with Hacker Lab since before the establishment of the mid-town location and has volunteered his time on many occasions to help grow Hacker Lab by providing elbow grease and skilled electrical maintenance and installations. Curtis’ educational foundation is in Digital Electronics and separately he attained his California State Electrical Contractor license in 2004 after apprenticing for his father in the family business for many years. Curtis’ also worked for over 20 years as producer for top tier tech and entertainment companies like EA, Disney, Atari, Playdom, E*TRADE, GSN and Sega.

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