Apr 5, 2013

Review of Computer Science for Kids

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Computer Science For Kids "offers self study  Programming Tutorials for Middle School, High School, and beginning adults.  They have been in business for over 25 years. Each of their tutorials are beginner friendly and easy to understand and feature non violent computer games to teach kids programming in a fun way.  As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we were generously given their Beginning Microsoft Small Basic program to try out.

Using this program you work through eleven chapters (over 500 pages) at your own pace and learn about program design, text window applications, graphics window applications, and much more.  You follow numerous examples and build several applications that you can also compare with other programming languages. 
It is suggested that you try and complete one chapter a week, with each chapter taking 3-6 hours of your time to complete.  As you read through each chapter, you should complete any examples you encounter.  Along with the class notes, all of the Beginning Microsoft Small Basic codes are provided for you in case you need any help.  If you need further assistance, Computer Science For Kids provides tutorial support for up to one year after your purchase from them directly.

You can purchase Beginning Microsoft Small Basic directly from Computer Science For Kids.  They offer a paperback textbook plus e-book download for $59.95 or you can purchase just the e-book download for $34.95.

In the beginning, this review was difficult for us.  Princess Belle just got her first computer for her birthday and wanted to give this program a shot. The program is recommended for 10 and up and she turned is 11 on her birthday but she has no computer skills at all as this birthday computer was really her first access to computers.  This made this program really too difficult for her at this time. 
I will say though that this program is for beginners with basic knowledge only and it isn't the fault of the program that Princess Belle had virtually no computer experience at all. 
I did decide to give it a try for myself though.  And for me, it was very easy!   I think that in a years time, with a little more experience with computers (and a little more patience! LOL) Belle would do very well with this program and would really enjoy it.  Here you can see a Sample Chapter.

I had to download the zip file and extract the folders.  I didn't have Microsoft Small Basic on the computer so we had to download it, but the tutorial tells you exactly what to do, step by step.  It was very easy to download and open.
Once Microsoft Small Basic is downloaded, that is what you use to write your code. You need to open Small Basic.  Then you type in what the lesson tells you. The lessons are found in the file you downloaded and extracted BSB notes.  
Small Basic has a program feature called Intellisense that allows you to type your code faster.  For instance, if you need to have the word Text in your code and you press the "T" a box will pop up and you click the word text and hit enter instead of having to type it out. The program is not case sensitive, you just need to spell the words you need correctly.  
Once you have everything entered, you hit run and another window pops up with the program that you wrote.  If you have made an error in your code, the program will tell you where the error occurred by line number and character so you can find it and fix it. The program also provides "context sensitive" help in which the help area will show information that is important to the user at that time.   You can also save your programs or even publish them to the web and share with friends and family.
Details Summary:
  • Vendor:  Computer Science for Kids
  • Product: Beginning Microsoft Small Basic
  • Requirements:
    • XP-SP2, Vista, or Windows 7
    • Microsoft Small Basic development environment (Version 0.9 or higher)(This is FREE and link is included in the Start Here file)
    • no programming experience is necessary but student should be familiar with “common computer operation systems” such as file maintenance.
  • Recommended Ages:  Ages 10 and up
  • Price: Single User License:
    • Regular Price: $59.95
    • Sale Price: $34.95 (Sale price available until July 4th, 2013)
Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about Computer Science for Kids.
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