Coding

Coding Terminologies Parents Should Know

 Coding is the process of writing a computer program.

 A programming language, just like a human language, consists of vocabulary and a collection of grammar rules. Each programming language has a particular syntax (grammar rules) and semantics that make it more unique & complex.  

There are many programming languages to choose from, and you can make that choice depending on your goals. C++ is the foundation for many common web browsers, Adobe products, and other applications whereas Java is used for creating video games. 

Python is used to power sites like Pinterest and Instagram whereas HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is used to create webpages that present information on the internet. 

Now, let us break down all of the coding terminologies for parents who lack context in coding: 

Statement of Programming

“Statement” in programming is telling a machine what to do by sending it instructions or writing statements that specify your intent. It’s pretty similar to writing sentences in the English Language, but with the addition of phrases, numbers, and punctuation specific to the programming language. To sum it up, a program is composed of a series of one or more sentences.  

Consider this example where you are sending directions to a friend: Drive straight for 1km. Take a right. Continue straight for 3 more km. Then take a left at the traffic signal. Your mission is to get your friend from point A to point B. To complete this goal, you break the task down into a series of clear, individual statements. 

Type of Data 

Computers can’t tell the difference between letters and numbers (although Artificial intelligence might just change that in near future.) Therefore, Computer programmers need to define a data form. It basically classifies types of data allocated to a variable or other entity in a computer program. 

Programming variables are similar to those you learn in a math class, except programming variable can represent more than just numbers. It could, for example, carry an alphabetic character such as “c” or a whole word or phrase such as “Hello World,” which is known as a string or a Boolean.

All the computer programming languages, including Visual Basic, C#, C++, and JavaScript, have data types. These are some examples of data types:

  • Boolean 
  • Attributes 
  • Date  

Programmers can create better applications by understanding data types. 

Variables

Variables are like containers used to store values that are to be used repeatedly in the program. The variables are stored in the computer’s memory to use the values at any given point and for any purpose such as calculation, database call, query results. Variables can contain different types of data like Boolean values, numbers, phrases, lists, etc. They also allow you to label the data with descriptive names to make the program easier to read.

Boolean 

Can you recall the old TRUE or FALSE question structure from school? As a Boolean or Boolean expression is a TRUE or FALSE value, you could call this Boolean checks. George Boole, an English mathematician and programming pioneer, created the Boolean system. 

Booleans are usually stored in bits when it comes to orders of magnitude, which is the smallest amount of data in a device. It can only hold one binary digit. As binary is a base-2 number system, it can only store the values 0 and 1.

In the case of a Boolean, 0 usually denotes false, while 1 denotes true. 

Binary 

Computers communicate in binary, which consists of 1s and 0s. Binary is an essential and elegant two-number scheme that serves as the foundation for all Binary Code ― which then serves as the foundation for all programming languages. 

Binary is an effective way to monitor logic circuits in magnetic media. It can rapidly detect the on or off state of an electrical signal.

Application

Most of you own an iPhone or an Android smartphone and are likely to be familiar with Applications. The mobile app, however, is just one example. Applications aka Apps can be mobile apps or internet apps. The phrase “app” has become a buzzword, but it is essentially similar to a software program. An app is designed with a specific function in mind, which runs on your iPhone or Android device. 

Feeling Hungry? There’s a food delivery app on your phone to order a pizza or anything you are in the mood for! Need to meditate? there’s an app for that too, with guided meditation techniques and a perfect background score!  

The majority of these tasks can be completed using a web browser, but mobile apps are designed specifically for tablets & phones and make our lives simpler. 

To create an iPhone app, you’ll need to be familiar with XCode, Apple’s integrated development environment, and for designing an Android app, you’ll need Eclipse in your development environment. 

Application Programming Interface (API)

API allows applications to interact with each other. To use an app on your phone, you have to ensure it is connected to the internet so it can send the data to the server. The server then performs duties like retrieving and interpreting the data, and prompts the desired action and sends it back to the application to present your results. E.g., API is responsible for all the behind-the-scenes that take place while we purchase a bag, post a selfie and publish a tweet at our fingertip. They run back & forth between the apps and interfaces to ensure a flow while we carry out multiple tasks on our devices.

Debugging

Anyone who wants to learn to code must get comfortable with bugs. Especially as a beginner, you are bound to make errors and deal with bugs for a large part of the coding process. There are 3 ways to approach bugs: Pre-bugging (ensure accuracy while writing code), Debugging (Identity & fix bugs once you find them), Post-bugging (deal with alien/unexpected) bugs.

The one where you have the most control while coding as a beginner is debugging. Various debugging tools can help you run your program while actively monitoring the code. It allows you to pause the program to examine the state and find the exact point where you made a programming mistake. Teaching kids to debug is not an easy task, however, it’s a critical one. It’s a great lesson on problem-solving and makes them persistent.

Scratch Programming

Let’s move on to something you are going to hear a lot. Scratch is an MIT-developed graphical programming language that allows children to learn drag-and-drop programming fundamentals while creating immersive stories and comics.

Scratch programming classes are ideal for any kid who needs a basic introduction to coding. Scratch uses block-based coding instead of lines of code to enable users to create with colourful commands and cartoon sprites. With Scratch, they can focus on building things, learn computational concepts, and problem-solve creatively even without typing code. Scratch is intuitive and entertaining. However, for kids 11+ years of age, Tekie suggests text-based coding language like Python, here’s why.  

ASCII 

Any piece of data that a machine processes must be translated into something that humans can comprehend and use. It could be a picture of a burger, your tax returns, or a viral video. However, you may not know that those tax documents and delicious-looking burgers, in reality, all begin as a number- the only thing computers can comprehend. Computer data is represented by 1s and 0s (binary), and ASCII (pronounced “ask-e”) is a method for mapping data/numbers into a computer’s memory as text. 

If you know someone who can benefit from learning these terminologies, why not share it?!