[dev nexus 2024] teaching your kid programming from the perspective of a kid

Speaker: Cassandra Chin


For more, see the 2024 DevNexus Blog Table of Contents


  • Steven Chin’s daughter.
  • Worked with coding and YAML in MInecraft
  • Starting teaching kids to program at 14 at conferences
  • Junior in college
  • Creating podcast at internship for younger people (ex college)

Tech diversity

  • 20 years of feale tech panels and still need
  • Women who try AP Comp Sci in high school ten times more like to major it.
  • Black/Latino students seven times more lilkely.
  • Need to provide opportunity
  • Even at 6 year old, kids think computers are more suited to boys. Fifth grade it tapers down so sweet spot for starting.

Kids and code

  • Schools mandate human/world languages, but not coding languages
  • Since schools dont always provide, parents need to
  • Not all screen time is equal
  • Limit youtube
  • Minecraft in middle
  • Best use is learning to code – ex: Scratch
  • Redirect computer use vs taking away

Mistakes for parents to avoid

  • Don’t leave your daughters out. Bring to tech event
  • Computers at home matter – an actual computer, not a tablet. Lets do more than play mobile games
  • Don’t need to be good at math. While Assembly requires math, nobody uses anymore Modern programs use logic, not math
  • Kids dislike math the most followed by foreight language. Computers is third highest. Both things above are types of art.
  • Don’t start with books like Discrete Math
  • Give examples of programmers that they can relate to
  • Don’t start with boring parts like what an array is. Better to start with legos
  • Don’t do the code for the kids. They won’t learn. Never grab mouse or keyboard. Means content too har


  • Anyone can learn to code. Don’t have to be super smart.
  • Kids told programmers are genious do worse than kids who think practies will make them better


  • Phippys AI Friend – comes with online workshop that takes about an hour. Actually use boo as prop
  • Coding for Kids Python
  • GIrls who Code

Helping kids

  • Relate to your kids hobbies. Ex: discuss who built
  • Lego Spike – build robot and do block coding
  • Mbot (Make Block). Uses screws instead of legos. Don’t have to use blocks
  • Hour of Code. Lots of themes
  • Choose age appropriate. Often we choose twoo hard
  • Squishy circuits for 3-9 year olds
  • Raspberry Pi and Arduino – 9-15 years old
  • Groups of two works best. When three kids, the younest will often feel left out
  • Take kids to localy run workshops – ex: confernces, girls who code

My take

I like her responses to Todd’s mini interview a the begining while they dealt with AV issues. Great humor. I liked that she made a joke about her dad being there to tell jokes. I also like “I’m not the daughter of Steven Chin; I have a name”. Great content throughout hether new to the topic or not.

The content resonated well. I gave my best friends five year old (daughter) a toy robot for her fifth birthday. I enjoyed seeing her play. I now have a gift idea for next year!

I also liked the demo from her book!

Java for new Programmers

Today was a great session about Java in education

From Oracle

Resources from Ken Fogel’s talk

  • Sample code showing Java brevity
  • Single File Source Code Execution (I really like being able to write java MyProgram.java). Way less explanation for new programmers!
  • Type /edit in JShell to open in an external editor (I didn’t know about this – cool)

Other resources I like

  • Online IDEs
    • https://repl.it/languages/java10
    • https://www.jdoodle.com/online-java-compiler/

who is the chromebook for? a review for senior citizens, kids and students

I’m getting tired of reading reviews that say the Chromebook is more limited than a netbook and therefore a waste of money.  These reviews miss the point.  Disclaimer: I haven’t touched a Chromebook – this is culled from other reviews.
Cr-48 Chromebook cropped
Who is the Chromebook for?

I can think of a few target audiences for the Chromebook:

  1. Senior citizens who use a computer to check e-mail, view pictures of the grandkids, research vacations, maybe watch some videos on youtube and some other random surfing.  People in this group do not want anything to do with taking care of their computer; they just want it to work.
  2. Young children who are just browsing and whose parent’s want the computer locked down.  (I actually think this case is marginal since children are typically going to use educational software and outgrow it quickly.  I’d favor an iPad with an optional keyboard for this group.)
  3. Teens and college students. I didn’t think of this one but if all you do is write papers, play games and surf the net, why bother worrying about a firewall/virus scan/etc.  I also like that this review was written by a teen – aka someone actually in the target audience being discussed.

You notice who is not on the list: technical people, people who like to fiddle with the computer, people with “advanced” needs, etc.

The reviews

Now let’s look at some reviews of the Chromebook.  Nothing against the NY Times; I read that review first and got aggravated with it first.  Most of the points I brought up there I saw in other reviews as well.

Review Comments Effect on senior citizen audience Effect on young child audience Effect on teenage/college student audience
NYTimes Missing Caps Lock Key This one could actually be a limitation.  This audience learned to type on a typewriter which had a Caps Lock key.  If it is a problem, hopefully another vendor/model adds back that key. Too young to care. Probably wouldn’t mind, but would be savvy enough to use the key reassignment technique to deal with it.
NYTimes No Bluetooth, Ethernet jack, FireWire port or DVD drive. Likely hasn’t even heard of the first three let alone wanting to fiddle with them. For a DVD drive, one can listen to music online and can’t install anything, so who needs a DVD drive. If everything is online this is ok.  If not, should have a different device. Depends on the person.  I can’t imagine not having a DVD drive and being able to install software in college.  But then I was a geek and computer science major.  If someone just wants the internet, it could be ok.
NYTimes I tried valiantly to use the Samsung as my main machine, but by the end of a week, I was about ready to toss it like a Frisbee. … I took four flights with it When was the last time you saw a retired person take four flights in a week and desperately need the computer then? Needs a tablet or game for the plane.  And doesn’t fly that much. Students aren’t known for having the resources to fly so much.
NYTimes But what if you want to run real, brand-name software? Photoshop? Quicken? Skype? World of Warcraft? FileMaker or Access? How will you sync or back up your iPad, iPhone or iPod if you can’t run iTunes? What about the specialized apps that your company might require? If you need any of these apps, you need a real computer and aren’t in the intended audience of a chromebook.  And if you aren’t retired yet, your company should be providing a computer. This is why I think young children would be better off with something else. This would have killed it for me in college.  I needed way too many apps.
LaptopMag But does the $499 Samsung Series 5 deliver as much performance as similarly priced netbooks? They are framing the question wrong right in the first paragraph!  It’s not a netbook.  I actually didn’t take issue with the rest of the review.  It was very neutral and they stated things as facts rather than “limitations” so it is up to the reader to decide if that is something he/she cares about.  Nothing about target audience, but nothing against it either.
Gizmodo Built for the Future, not for the Present Like LaptopMag, the actual review was pretty neutral and stated facts.  A negative rating without any mention of a target audience though.  (and of course it is forward looking – that’s what one does entering a market)
Assorted Zdnet pages n/a While I can’t imagine using this as a work machine, ZDNet extensively talks about a target audience.  (The reason I can’t imagine it as a work machine isn’t because I am technical.  It is because I work for a bank where putting all your data in the cloud and off VPN seems insane.)

I read a number of reviews but it was basically more of the same.  Has anyone seen a review that actually review about how the Chromebook would be for some target audience?  Zdnet was all I could find from someone who has tried a Chromebook.


As Mark Spritzler notes “The thing with the Chromebook, is there has never been a device like this for the actual purpose that the Google Chromebook was created for.” This is precisely the problem I am seeing in the reviews.  Google isn’t trying to compete with existing netbooks or even tablets.  They are trying to create an “internet surfing machine” and reviewers are looking at what it can’t do rather than the benefits.  Going back to our target audiences: they are all groups that will pay the same amount or even a premium for something simpler.  Less complexity which means less problems which means a better experience.