Coloring is one of the most therapeutic, enjoyable activities a child can partake in. Ensuring the shading doesn’t go outside of the lines, formulating new ways to color a shape, the entire experience is ubiquitous.

There’s another pastime that involves just as much meticulosity and originality, but isn’t nearly as widespread amongst kids — coding.

Every time the end of the school year approaches, I’m preparing myself for the exhilarating, picturesque, stress-free break that’s idealized by students and teachers alike. However, personally, the wearisome days of summer can become rather monotonous. If you’re on the same wavelength, computer programming can prove itself to be a beneficial, pleasurable way to spend summer months.

I am currently attending an all-girls coding camp at the University of Minnesota, and from this experience along with others, I’ve found that programming can be an eminently valuable and prevalent activity to participate in.

One of the best things about coding is that anyone, of any age, can engage in it. There are several programs that even preschoolers can experiment with, and a large portion of them are inexpensive.

A personal favorite of mine is the visual programming language software, Hopscotch. This is an app in which kids can code to create games, quizzes and more. Hopscotch provides tutorials on how to use their coding language to create simple and complex things. I’ve been able to add personal touches to my programs, which has helped bring out creativity within my work outside of Hopscotch. Additionally, kids are able to make their own accounts so that others can access and try out their creations, and perhaps, can be inspired by them. Being able to share programs with friends makes coding that much more fun. Creating an account on Hopscotch is completely free, and the benefits definitely make it worth a child’s time.

If you’re interested in something more hands-on, Ozobots would be much more catered to your taste. Ozobots are golf ball-sized robots preprogrammed to detect patterns of colors drawn on a white piece of paper, and perform a specific task based on its detection. In addition to this, there is a website that you can access to code the Ozobot and expand its capabilities. There are coding levels from preschool to master. Unfortunately, you do have to be willing to spend money, as these are not cheap.

As our world is developing, so is the range of career opportunities for women. It was only seven years ago when merely 11% of the engineers in our country were female. During those times, it was a common belief that engineering was not a suitable field for women to work in. Coding is one of the most effective tools used in STEM, and it’s equally important for boys and girls to take advantage of it.

Coding is more than just a workout for your brain. It opens the gates of perseverance, creativity, critical thinking, and many more valuable skills for children and adults. In a society with new technology rising at rapid rates, we need to challenge ourselves to be involved, one line of code at a time.

Aspiring journalist Harini Senthilkumar will be a ninth-grader at Eden Prairie High School this fall. She enjoys singing and writing.

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