11 year old children are the perfect age for our Panda Programmer classes. Our classes typically consist of 8 year old, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, and 12 year old students. At these ages, children are old enough to concentrate and learn, yet they do not fear computers! Surprisingly Computer Science is not taught in many middle schools. Similarly elementary schools do not teach it. After the children embark on creating simple customized animations, they move on to more complex tasks that involve control structures, etc. Ultimately we give our students the tools they need to program their own custom games and projects.
Research has shown that computer programming significantly helps children with brain development. Specifically, computer programming can have positive effects on a range of cognitive abilities, such as reasoning skills (which blocks to use for the program?), logical thinking (what will be the effect of these changes to the program?), planning skills (will a particular change have the intended consequence for the program?), and general problem-solving skills (how to debug the program?). The curriculum used by Panda Programmer has been developed and refined with these skills in mind. We use this curriculum in all of our classes. Additionally we use it in our Maryland summer camps. Also we use the curriculum in our online classes.
Furthermore, 11 year old students are beginning to consider possible careers. Their in-school and extracurricular activities can have a significant impact not only on their education, but also on their eventual selection of and training for a career. Programming opens up many doors to many career paths involving engineering, medicine, research, and business.