Blockly is one of the best visual programming languages. It is quite similar to Scratch and follows a block-based approach for programming. Visually learning how to code through using blocks prepares kids above 8 years for more advanced programming in the future. However, the main purpose of Blockly is to assist children in understanding the logic behind programming and learning the basic syntax associated with building programs. This also enables children to understand concepts such as expressions or loops through the interlocking blocks without bothering about complex syntax. Thus, through this amazing programming environment, kids can learn how to code with ease and in a manner similar to playing games.
Also, Blockly is a great way of introducing your child to other programming languages such as Java and Python. With this amazing tool, kids can now express and understand concepts while not getting bored. Read on…
What is Blockly?
Blockly is a learning tool that is focused on making code easy to manipulate and readable at the same time. This allows kids to be confident in using this tool without even knowing any of the languages they will be working with. The tool features a great user interface or UI that makes it fun to code while making it easy to add or change code. Undisputedly, Blockly is a very friendly educational tool that truly allows kids to adapt to how it functions and go along with the simple instructions to build programs.
Here are the core features of Blockly:
- Blockly makes concepts easy to understand by using them without getting into complexities.
- This learning platform is open source and free for everyone.
- It allows hassle-free addition and deletion of blocks, thus compartmentalising code and making it easier to control the outcome.
- The tool also allows code to be migrated into other text-based programming languages easily, thus, making it simpler to export programs.
- Blockly opens up many new possibilities for education. For example, using Blockly to animate movies with code or learn mathematics.
- It is web-based and supports all major browsers such as Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Opera.
- It features Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) instead of Flash, thus being future-proof.
- It supports Android and iOS for mobile use.
- It involves minimal type checking.
- It involves easy code extension and generation of clean code.
- It is all about step-by-step error tracing and easy debugging of code.
- It supports over 50 human languages that include both right-to-left and left-to-right languages.
How Programs are Built Using Blockly?
Here’s a step-by-step guide to building a program with Blockly:
Step 1: First, choose block type from the toolbox inside the Blockly editor to use variables, functions, logic and workspaces for building the program. The workspace allows the blocks to be arranged or stacked together. Add the necessary Blockly libraries.
Step 2: Create blocks and code, then use the blocks for fetching the desired functions. Integrate with other applications in order for Blockly to generate the code for applying functions in external applications or running games.
Step 3: After you finish building the structure of the program, run the program. You can also export it (or convert it to other languages) in order to use it for other purposes.
Reasons to Choose Blockly for your Kids
Here are some reasons to choose Blockly for your kids:
- Kids can learn Blockly easily on their own from the comfort of their home.
- Blockly is very simple to learn and use.
- The UI is targeted towards kids, the navigation is smooth and easy to adapt to.
- Blockly automatically checks for errors or analyses the code to identify the problem.
- Kids can keep arranging the blocks till the problem is complete.
- Super-users can switch between the languages with ease.
- Blockly allows code to be created visually by simply snapping blocks together.
- The code is readable and can be generated in a variety of languages.
- Blockly is great for slow-typers and ensures that there is minimal typing.
- It helps build compartmentalised programs and acquire the full code for them at once.
- Blockly also features Blockly games that help in teaching coding through puzzles, maths and animations.
- It allows kids to avoid making errors due to unbalanced parenthesis or missing semicolons, thus making it simpler and more engaging to code.
Blockly has been used across the globe for many projects such as MIT’s Scratch (programming environment) and MIT’s App Inventor for building Android applications. Blockly games have also been built using Blockly while Code.org teaches programming using Blockly to millions of students.
Here are some more projects where Blockly has been used:
Wonder Workshop: For controlling Dash and Dot educational robots
KodeKLIX: For controlling the electronic components that can be snapped together
RoboBlockly: This is a robot simulation environment that is web-based and focused on learning maths and coding. This employs Blockly as well.
SAM Labs: Another education solution for coding in the STEAM that uses Blockly
PICAXE: Uses Blockly to control microchips for educational purposes
Kids face two major types of problems when trying to code – syntax and logic related ones. These types of problems make it harder for kids to learn programming concepts and steer them away from computing, thus instilling fear of coding. This can be avoided by using learning tools such as Blockly to ensure that kids enjoy it when they code. Blockly is also highly interactive and reduces the complexity of coding, thus keeping the interest of kids. It is impossible to make syntax errors in this tool and children can instead focus more on the logic behind using variables, loops, and conditionals.