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I have a 10 year old nephew who enjoys computers and seems be interested in the how they work.

I'm a programmer and would like to encourage him to try out programming but getting a 10 year old to sit down and do a for-loop in BASIC is probably going to be kinda boring to him.

Are there are software programs or web sites that fundamentally are trying to teach programming to kids but do it in a very fun way. I'm looking for something that he can just dive into without much instruction, as I don't see him very often.

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    Free? What budget? Online/Offline? With instructions in English or another language? – Nicolas Raoul Apr 23 '14 at 4:55
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    Not really an answer, but Small Basic might be more fun for him ;) – Seth Apr 23 '14 at 15:57
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Try Scratch. Don't start from the first with C++, BASIC. It's not very easy to learn especially for a kid.

With Scratch, you can program your own interactive stories, games, and animations — and share your creations with others in the online community.

Scratch helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively — essential skills for life in the 21st century.

Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. It is provided free of charge.

From http://scratch.mit.edu/about/

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A little bit of a leap, but your 10 year old might want to try learning Python.

Python is a very easy-to-learn, fairly basic scripting language, while still having enough power to actually do something. (Comparing to Scratch, which I have found that kids really get bored of when they realize it doesn't have any real-world applications)

Yes, there would certainly be a learning curve. Obviously I do not know this 10 year old, but Python is certainly a possibility. Python gets pretty basic, so I think he could start to experiment with it fairly quickly after starting to learn.

Python introduces a lot of the higher-level language functions, so it is a good start for younger learners who will want to learn something more advanced in the future.

codeacadamy.com has a pretty good tutorial, and there are many more out there.

If you have a Mac you already have Python, and Linux usually has it installed by default as well. It can be easily installed on Windows as well.

More info about Python at python.org.

Hope I helped!

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  • I don't think this is a good first-step for a 10 year old as there is a bit of a learning curve before you can start doing cool stuff (for most 10 year olds) – TruthOf42 Apr 21 '14 at 15:07
  • I agree that most 10 year olds will have a challenge mastering python but it is a great first language - most 13-14 years would easily learn it so sure it is slightly advanced but advanced means it can actually do fun stuff which can encourage the fire of learning much more than something easy that can't do much. – Nick Dickinson-Wilde Apr 21 '14 at 16:21
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I recommend JavaScript with tuts provided by Code.org, they teach them how to build games and other stuff. The Tuts are built for these ages

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I would build on the suggestion of python to add VPython, when a "program" like:

from visual import *

floor = box(length=4, height=0.5, width=4, color=color.blue)

ball = sphere(pos=(0,4,0), color=color.red)
ball.velocity = vector(0,-1,0)

dt = 0.01
while 1:
    rate(100)
    ball.pos = ball.pos + ball.velocity*dt
    if ball.y < 1:
        ball.velocity.y = -ball.velocity.y
    else:
        ball.velocity.y = ball.velocity.y - 9.8*dt

Produces a moving picture like:

bounce.py

It is easier to get the interest of children. Both python and VPython are free and available on Windows, Mac (python at least is installed by default) and Linux, (python and often a version of VPython installed or in the core repository for most version).

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