KidsRuby is a free software download with embedded tutorials that teaches kids how to program using the open-source coding language, Ruby. Available for both Mac and PC users, the software provides a simple framework that is accessible for kids as young as six years old. The instructions are presented in a voice/visual manner that kids can easily understand and the projects relate to their everyday lives.
The KidsRuby site encourages kids to “hack” their homework, which means using the software to write solutions to their homework using the Ruby code. For example, “hacking” may be programming a math formula, creating a diagram, or making a web page instead of writing an essay. While this software is aimed at younger children, adults may use it as a casual introduction to this widely used language. With a software suite that includes an editor that allows users to code and see the result in real-time, kids are better able to stay engaged and remember what they’ve learned.
Keywords / Definitions
- Open Source: When programing code is made available for anyone to view, use, and/or modify
- Fork: To make a duplicate of a developer’s code and alter it
- GitHub: The world’s largest open source community where developers share, collaborate, and review code
The teacher helped us create a cool application with different colors that we were able to explore on our own. He also showed us how to write a program to help with our homework.
—Nailah, a 7-year-old budding Ninja Coder/BlackGirlsCode
Ruby, the language that KidsRuby teaches, is a widely used code that is an integral skill for any programming professional. KidsRuby allows novice learners to explore a very complex subject using a simple, yet effective, framework. Within an hour, a child could easily code their first design using the Ruby language. For learners who want to use KidsRuby to achieve a deeper knowledge of the Ruby code, a robust network of of free online resources are available.
Because the language is open-source, they encourage developers to share their code and to allow others to “fork” it, which means to be able duplicate, alter, and use. On the website GitHub, there is a collection of user-generated games, lessons, and projects that were created specially for KidsRuby. Whether at home with parents or in a formal learning environment, kids do not need any prior knowledge of coding or extensive experience with the internet. However, a computer that meets the software requirements is necessary.