9 fun ways to learn to code

Coding skills are obviously super useful for computer science careers, but they can also be handy in other industries and areas. UX designers, civil engineers, environmental scientists, medical researchers and plenty of other roles use computer programming for everything from analysing experiment results to creating simulations. Below are nine awesome resources that’ll help you learn to code, or sharpen your skills if you already know a thing or two!

1. Swift Playgrounds

If you want to learn Apple’s programming language, Swift, in an interactive and fun way then you need to check out Swift Playgrounds. It requires zero coding knowledge and you solve puzzles to master the basics. Once you’re feeling confident, you can move on to harder challenges in the playground that are designed by Apple and other top devs!

2. CS First by Google

These are great exercises to try with your class as you learn to code, but feel free to dive into them solo too. You can play around with the 1-2 hour or multi-day activities, or bring your own stories to life using the programming language Scratch. For older students, Google also has Applied CS Skills where you build Android games.

3. Microsoft MakeCode

Love being really hands-on and getting immediate results as you learn to code? Microsoft MakeCode is for you. With it, you can use an interactive simulator that gives you instant feedback on your program (making bug testing easier!) and a block editor where you can drag and drop coloured blocks around your workspace to make programs. When you’re ready to tackle a bigger challenge, you can move on up to their JavaScript Editor. P.S. MakeCode has Minecraft themed activities too!

4. Scratch

Scratch is brilliant for coding your own interactive stories, games and animations. It’s super creative and you can share your work with others in the Scratch community. There’s also a bunch of cool extensions so you can use Scratch with LEGO Mindstorms EV3, micro:bit and digital musical instruments and pens.

5. CodeCombat

This one is a role-playing game (RPG) where you use JavaScript and Python to command your players to move, take action and battle enemies as you learn to code. One big positive is that it definitely doesn’t feel like homework and you probably won’t even notice how much you’re learning!

6. Hour of Code Activities

We rate Hour of Code activities coz they’re short and can be filtered by grade. There’s something for everyone – you can play, design and code a retro arcade game, create a dance party, or make your very own meditation app. There are also some excellent unplugged activities to try when you need a break from the screen.

7. Code Studio

Code Studio has a huge catalogue of courses and breaks them down into grades, so you can easily find projects that are right for you. Here you can learn to code by making your own game, app or webpage. You’ll also dabble in JavaScript, CSS and HTML. We also can’t stop watching their short education videos on how things work (like the Internet, AI and computer vision).

8. Raspberry Pi

It may sound like a delicious dessert, but it’s actually a tiny computer that can do lots of impressive things once you plug it into a computer monitor or TV. With a Raspberry Pi, you can brush up on your Scratch and Python skills. It’s a nifty piece of tech that’s used all over the world to help people learn to program and understand computers, and its low-cost creates easier access to computing education.

9. Sphero

If robotics is your jam then you need to check out Sphero! Sphero makes programmable robots for people of all ages and skill levels. Once you’ve bought your new robot friend, you can download the Sphero Edu app that has over 100+ guided STEAM and computer science lessons and activities to help you get started. You’ll work with your robot to make it roll, speak and sense, and you’ll also master simple controls (loops), functions and variables along the way.

Louise Meers

Author: Louise Meers

Louise is the acting digital editor for Careers with STEM. She has a journalism degree from the University of Technology, Sydney and has spent over a decade writing for youth. She is passionate about inspiring young people to achieve their biggest goals.


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