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How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?

by domm (Chaplain)
on Apr 25, 2005 at 19:23 UTC ( #451305=perlmeditation: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

Update: Thanks for the incredible helpful feedback! I'll definitly report back after the event. perlmonks++

Another Update after the event:
Well, the presentations went quite well. I decided to use the 'peanut-butter and toast'-thing (but as we're in Austria I substituted peanut butter with Nutella (nobody here eats peanut butter...)). We had a lot of fun destroying slices of bread, trying to knock open the Nutella glas, sticking fingers into Nutella, and finally even eating the finished breads.

I had some time left after this so I showed them a small script I wrote some time ago on behalf of my younger son, which calculates the seconds passed since someones birthday. Most kids where around 300.000.000 seconds old.

In some groups there was still time left, so I showed them a text based space invaders clone I wrote some time ago (I didn't showed them the code...).

Over and all it was great fun! Thanks again for the very helpful tips!

EOUPDATE

So, the teachers of my son coaxed me into participating at the 'jobs day' where people present their jobs. As you might have guessed, mine is software developer.

Now I'm looking for ideas on how to introduce 8 year old kids (who don't/barely speak english) to programming. I've got 20 minutes and about 4 kids per shift (from 8:00 until 12:00, I must've been crazy to say yes...)

Here's what I'm currently planning:

  • Computer are dumb. The only thing they can do is calculate.
  • Programmers have to tell computer what to do.
  • Because computers are dumb, this can be quite laborious (as some of you might know...) (even if you're using a swiss army chainsaw)

To show them some actual programming, I thought I'll give them some task they encounter daily (like 'cashier at the supermarket') at let them break it down into 'statements', eg:

start new payment transaction; while (something is on the conveyer) { scan item; } tell costumer total price; take money; calculate change; return change; say goodbye;

Another idea is to show them some actual, simple code (eg a calculator) and alter it a bit

So, has anybody else an nice ideas or some experiences with little kids and programming?

-- #!/usr/bin/perl for(ref bless{},just'another'perl'hacker){s-:+-$"-g&&print$_.$/}

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Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by trammell (Priest) on Apr 25, 2005 at 19:44 UTC
    I think I was about 8 when I was introduced to the concept of counting in binary, using an analogy from base-10 counting. We'd already done sums with carry so introducing base-2 wasn't so hard. I'd also seen the "Schoolhouse Rock" cartoon with base-12 counting, so it wasn't much of a reach.

    Maybe hex would be easier ("What if we had 16 fingers instead of 10?")...

Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by dave0 (Friar) on Apr 25, 2005 at 19:44 UTC
    Maybe I'm a bit out of touch with what 8-year-olds would be capable of or interested in, but it's probably a good idea to avoid Perl. I don't think there's any way an 8-year-old can learn anything interesting in or about Perl in 20 minutes.

    If you want to give them a good starting point for learning to program, show them Logo and teach them some of the basics. In 20 minutes, you can probably introduce them to instruction statements and looping, and get them to write a simple program to draw a square using turtle graphics. It's not much, but it lets them actually try to do something themselves.

      dave0++ for mentioning Logo. People often ask if they should teach kids Java or Perl or LISP or whatever, but completely forget about Logo, a language designed specifically for kids.

      "There is no shame in being self-taught, only in not trying to learn in the first place." -- Atrus, Myst: The Book of D'ni.

Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by jacques (Priest) on Apr 25, 2005 at 19:47 UTC
    I was programming device drivers in C and developing video games for my Atari when I was 8.

    (Okay, okay. Actually I was still learning how to tie my shoes, but I could've been programming!)

      No, you were programming in that dirty word, PHP ;)

      Seriously though, C at 8 is pretty amazing.

      Actually I was still learning how to tie my shoes, but I could've been programming!

      Ah, you were heavily involved in the booting process. ;-)

      When I was 8, most people had never seen a computer - heck, most people wouldn't know what a computer was. I certainly didn't! People still had to land on the moon on my 8th birthday.

Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by phaylon (Curate) on Apr 25, 2005 at 19:48 UTC
    Great idea!

    Well, I got my first programming lessons on paper and it was very useful. You could draw "program"-flow graphs1 to bring the basics of abstraction nearer to them. Maybe you could also get some of the teachers and work out a little very easy language2 with words and a syntax which makes it easier for kids than a real language. You could also write a little parser if you wan't. If the language is easy enough it shouldn't be very hard with Modules like RecDescent. Although I've never worked with it and can't tell for sure.

    Good luck! I hope this gave some good ideas.

    1 Sorry, not a native speaker. Had a lack of a better word
    2 Or maybe it already exists?

    Ordinary morality is for ordinary people. -- Aleister Crowley
Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by kutsu (Priest) on Apr 25, 2005 at 19:49 UTC

    Having to teach 5-10 year olds I have a few ideas:

    I like the computers are dumb angle, calling anything dumb will get a child's attention.

    As for your "show them an actual program", I like this idea but physical examples seem to work better with kids so I'd have a prop not a computer screen or situation - one very classic example of this is as follows:

    Have the children "program", on paper if you have time, you to make a peanut butter sandwich: when you get an instruction like "open the jar of peanut butter" cut open the plastic with your knife, "put peanut butter on bread" put the jar on top of the loaf of bread. Then write out, or have written out, an actual "program" for making a peanut butter sandwich (pick up peanut butter; unscrew lid;...etc). This should give a good example of AI, basic programming comcepts (add a while(PB area < bread surface){}), and just be a fun example. This was actually my first programming related school work, when I was about 10.

    "Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum - I think that I think, therefore I think that I am." Ambrose Bierce

      Gee, when I was 11, I wrote a very basic password cracking program to break into a school computer (never ended up running it, but I wrote one - impressed the hell out of some of my friends at the time :-)

        I started writing terrible basic and qbasic code when I was 6, but didn't start actually programming til I was 16. You had computers at your school when you were 11?...lucky dog.

        "Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum - I think that I think, therefore I think that I am." Ambrose Bierce

      When I was in college, Brian Kernighan guest taught the intro CS class, and he did the peanut-butter sandwich algorithm class with a chainsaw and we had to give him instructions on how to cut his beard.

      Do that!! :)) They'll never forget you.

Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by Anonymous Monk on Apr 25, 2005 at 20:05 UTC
    Holy crap, follow Dave0's advice and stick to something like Logo and turtle graphics. And ditch the shopping idea. Talk about boring. Graphics are a lot more whiz-bang, and you could give each kid a printout of his code and the resulting output.

      If you have the right gear, Logo can be used to control robots with a serial interface. Another alternative would be to use Lego Mindstorms. In which case, you might want to take a look at LEGO::RCX (which I've never used... I don't have an IR tower)

      I think writing games and graphics has a much higher bar of entry than when I was 8. I was perfectly happy with drawing blocks on the screen in basic on an Apple ][e. It was close to the games I played at the time (hell, this was before Moon Patrol, Spy Hunter and Oregon Trail ... I think Jump Man and LodeRunner were the big games of the day ... and Pinball Construction Set)

      20 minutes is not enough time to do anything really significant. Even the sandwich example may be a bit much. Drawing a square might take up 20 minutes. (I'll admit, I don't know 8 year olds -- they'd probably have a better attention span than my neighbor's 5 year old ... I hope, or you're going to be driven crazy after 4 hrs of it.)

      You might want to prepare for a few different possibilities, just so if the first run doesn't go well, you have a backup plan. In some of the sessions, you might have to answer lots of questions, and not get to all of the stuff you want, while in others, you're going to to rush through too quickly, and need something else to occupy time.

        I love LEGO::RCX. The original programming environment is very object-like, you stick pre programmed modules together in a graphical interface thats simple and fun to use.

        However, there are a couple of things missing: Variables, and flexibility.

        But once your child gets to the point of wanting those things, there are other programming languages available for the RCX.
        NQC (Not Quite C) is a great next step, and gets the programmer into using variables and counters. There are a couple of good books on the Mindstorms robots, and programming them in RCX, NQC and other languages.

        Plus the Legos are still fun to play with. :-)

        I just realized that this was my 100th writeup. Thanks perlmonks for being here! :-)
Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by johnnywang (Priest) on Apr 25, 2005 at 20:13 UTC
    Maybe something about the screen, color and sound? an 8 year's experience with computers is pretty much limited to games and visuals. Being able to do arithmetic is not impressive to them, they know how to add already! I think the idea that "computers are dumb, but very fast" is a good theme, maybe some kind of counting competition between your program and the kids? Kids are also puzzled by the fact that "those nice pictures are stored somewhere in China, and when I click on this mouse, it travls millions of miles, through this phone line, and come to this screen", maybe show them them the binary file of a gif image, and explain how that somehow produces that nice picture on the screen?
      "those nice pictures are stored somewhere in China, and when I click on this mouse, it travls millions of miles, through this phone line, and come to this screen"

      They do? :-\

      maybe show them them the binary file of a gif image, and explain how that somehow produces that nice picture on the screen?

      I'm not entirely sure, because I don't really know the gif format, but probably bmp would be easier to explain and to understand :-) It would probably be interesting for them, too, to understand how images can be stored :-)

        those nice pictures are stored somewhere in China, and when I click on this mouse, it travls millions of miles, through this phone line, and come to this screen
        They do?

        Yeah, but the really nasty pictures I store a lot closer to home :-)

Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by VSarkiss (Monsignor) on Apr 25, 2005 at 20:18 UTC

    I had to do something like this a while ago, and I think you're going in the wrong direction: you need to make it more relevant. The main contact 8-year-olds have with computers today is video games and computer games, so the "Our friend the Univac" lecture from the 1960's is not going to mean much to them.

    I'd start with "Do you realize every web site you use is a computer somewhere?" Then describe how someone has to actually figure out every graphic, every animation, every piece of text that shows up. Make it visual: bring pictures from "The Incredibles" and talk about how artists and programmers collaborated to create the movie.

    I do like your "cashier" example. You might want to make it like a game: "Joey will be the cashier, and Mary will be the scanner. Sarah, pass your item by the scanner. Now Joey has to go look up the price." And so on.

    Most important piece of advice: have fun with it!

Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by bmann (Priest) on Apr 25, 2005 at 20:31 UTC
    Great question - I'll have to bookmark this thread.

    I have an 8 year old too. Codes and ciphers are real popular with her and her classmates right now. About a month ago I took her to the library and she checked out every book she could find, and she's spent hours creating her own substitution ciphers.

    A few days ago she asked me if I could teach her how to "hack". I thought this was a great opportunity, so (after I explained the difference between "hack" and "crack") we sat down with paper and pencil and worked out what would have to happen to encrypt and decrypt a simple message. Then we sat down at the keyboard together and duplicated rot13, and she loved it.

    It gave me an opportunity to talk about how characters are displayed, chr and ord, then tr. Since then, she's asked probably 10 times what else she could learn!

    Our next project is printing triangles. You know the type...

    X XX XXX XXXX
    I'm going to start with hard coded print statements and from there teach her about loops.

    Bottom line, I'd start with something fun that catches their attention as well as gives you a chance to explain some of the basics - I/O, conditionals, simple calculations, character manipulation, graphics, flow control, etc. If your presentation entertains, you'll engage more of the kids.

    Whatever you decide to do, please post the results back here so we know how it turned out.

      This is an excellent idea. By using very simple encryption as your example - eg the Caesar cipher or the Vigenere cipher - you should be able to teach them something useful in twenty minutes. Start by teaching the Caesar cipher, then show how quickly and easily it can be broken using brute force or trivial frequency analysis, then introduce the Vigenere cipher and show that it doesn't fall to either attack. At least, it doesn't when you're working with a pen on a whiteboard.

      And most importantly - don't teach encryption, or ciphers, or algorithms, or programming. Teach them how to pass secret messages to their friends that their teachers won't be able to read.

      Details about the Vigenere cipher are here.

Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by chas (Priest) on Apr 25, 2005 at 20:33 UTC
    I guess if I had to do something like that, I might write a very simple program that asks a few questions and then "magically" tells the user their age or birthday or some number they've thought of, etc. (Based on some simple algebraic identity...probably you've seen many such.) That might catch their attention, and then you could show them the few lines of code. Since Perl code can be written so that it is almost English, that should be understandable and also illustrates things that programs can do - communicate with user, store input in a variable, do arithmetic calculations, etc. In fact, it's sounding more doable all the time ... (except maybe for the "who don't/barely speak english" part.) Even if they don't understand perfectly, they'll come away with some ideas, and that's probably the best you can do in the situation you describe.
    Good luck!
    chas
Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by Juerd (Abbot) on Apr 25, 2005 at 22:04 UTC

    When I first learned about computers and how a computer program worked, the metaphor used was very, very simple: recipes. A program is a recipe.

    Some recipes are used by other recipies, for example if you need a boiled egg in a greater meal. This is the most natural description of modularity I've heard so far.

    I think I was 9 or 10 years old when I started programming.

    Juerd # { site => 'juerd.nl', plp_site => 'plp.juerd.nl', do_not_use => 'spamtrap' }

Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by brian_d_foy (Abbot) on Apr 25, 2005 at 22:16 UTC

    I had a short class in computer programming (on Apple IIs!) in junior high. The first day of class, the teacher laid out a jar of peanut butter, a jar of jelly, a loaf of sliced bread, and a butter knife on the table.

    Our task was to tell him how to make a peanut butter sandwich, and he was going to do exactly what we told him to do.

    Not knowing anything about precise instructions, one of the students said "Get some bread". The teacher put his hand into the bag, made a fist around whatever he could get into his hand, and pulled it off. It look like a shark took a bite out of the bread. Lesson one: the computer doesn't know how ot get bread.

    When we figured out how to be precise enough to get two undamaged slices of bread (he wasn't a jerk about it once he made the point), we made the same mistake again: "Spread some peanut butter on the bread", but since we hadn't told him to take the lid of the peanut butter jar, he didn't have much luck (although he tried). Once we got the lid off, we tried the same command again, so he just stuck his fingers in the peanut butter and pulled out a big glob and spread that.

    It went on from there. It was entertaining, messy, instructive, and memorable. It connects to something an 8 year old has in his (or her!) daily life, and it's something he can repeat to their parents at the dinner table.

    After that, it was all about moving the turtle around in LOGO. :)

    --
    brian d foy <brian@stonehenge.com>
      This is a really great idea. In fact, we did a very similar thing in my grad-level intro to AI course:

      One volunteer was the "brain", one volunteer was the "eyes", and one volunteer was the "robot". Both the brain and the robot volunteers were blindfolded. A bright red box was hidden in the front of the lecture hall, and the task was to get the robot to pick it up.

      The brain could only do two things: ask simple yes/no questions to the eyes (ie. is the ball straight ahead? is it less than 10 degrees to our left?), and command the robot to move with simple commands (i.e, turn left 10 degrees, move forward until I say stop, put arms out, move your arms together).

      This was a whole lot of fun (even for tired college students), and the professor says that no group has ever successfully gotten the box ;) The lesson was that even with the most sophisticated visual sensors and robotic movement capabilities, the "brain" part of AI is really hard.

      ...

      Another example for a hands-on activity is to build a sorting network. Have some students be gates and some students be inputs. The input students are each holding a number written on a card. The gate students decide whether the smaller input goes to their left or right. The students will be amazed that no matter how they go into the network, they seem to end up in sorted order at the end.

      If you want to get more theoretical than just the basics of programming, ask them whether the sorting gate is correct for all possible inputs. How would you prove it?

      blokhead

Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by merlyn (Sage) on Apr 25, 2005 at 23:02 UTC
Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by perrin (Chancellor) on Apr 25, 2005 at 23:03 UTC
    Logo sucks. When I was little we used to program simple games in Basic. A game where you guess the number between 1 and 10 makes a pretty good starting point. That shows how programs can be set up to be interactive.
Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by artist (Parson) on Apr 25, 2005 at 23:39 UTC
    I would start with simple logic and stuff like that, rather than actual programming. This is the age when they start getting curious about the world. Show first, what programming can achieve rather than the programming itself. Also show, how he/she can program various things in the life and draw parallels between those activities and computer programming to introduce programming to them later on.
    --Artist
Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by mstone (Deacon) on Apr 26, 2005 at 00:45 UTC

    Tell the kids that a computer is a machine that pretends to be other machines. Programmers make up the rules that tell the computer what to do.

    If you give a computer one set of rules, it will pretend to be a typewriter (though most 8-year-olds have probably never seen an actual typewriter). If you give it a different set of rules, it will pretend to be a CD player. If you give it another set of rules, it will pretend to be a DVD player.

    Then forget the computer and have them 'program' each other. Have them decide what they want someone to do, and let them make up a set of rules for how the person is supposed to act. As the moderator, you can tell them when things need to be broken down into smaller steps, and put limits on how much the kid 'running the program' can know.

    Encourage them to be deliberately obtuse and literal about following the instructions, so the kids writing the rules have to get more and more specific as they 'debug' their program.

    That should be accessible for kids of that age range, and it turns some basic programming skills into the kind of competetive game kids that age enjoy.

Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by redlemon (Hermit) on Apr 26, 2005 at 10:06 UTC

    I helped my (10yr old) daughter with a presentation she had to do for school. Topic was computers in general, not only programming.

    I taught her to strip a (prepared) old 386 I had lying around. So during the presentation she took out the memory, disk, cpu etc. explained what they were for and how you needed to tell the computer how to shift bits of info around using a program.

    Then she had a little quiz, where the computer parts were the prizes. The kids loved it (and I got rid of a bunch of junk :-) ).

Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by samizdat (Vicar) on Apr 26, 2005 at 13:38 UTC
    Not to beat my own drum too loudly (sorry!) but please see TheOpen ReSource Project for some thoughts.

    I disagree that kids in the 8 - 10 range cannot grok programming. Some of our most potent sessions started when kids got an epiphanic moment of understanding the interactive nature of a shell prompt. My 5-year-old can learn lots if I give it to him in small doses.

    I would suggest that you make up a simple read-eval-print Perl program that does something simple with the input a child types, such as transforming said input into ig-pay atin-lay. Laughter is important! You might also have it blow up the output by printing character graphics of the transformed string on the screen, paged with spacebar. You might consider a program for drawing a spirograph image on a Tk canvas, as another possibility. Also, design your demonstration so that there is something simple that they can modify in the program, so that they see immediate results. If your shell and Xterm can print color, use escape sequences, and show them how to change the output by changing a single byte. Plan for three or four different transformations that you can cycle through with simple keyboard changes. Be ready to revert your editor to last-saved, because some of them will screw up badly. Have both a flowchart and code printout handy for presentation to the adventurous. Most will toss it in the trash, but some will see the parallels and learn a great deal. Paper is only $3.50 a ream; what price inspiration?

    One CRITICAL thing to make sure of is that you have everything ready and have your presentation scripted beforehand. Kids are used to high-bandwidth multitrack shovel-feeding from TV and games, and you can only get a little dose of inspiration in before they get impatient and the moment is lost.
Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by bageler (Hermit) on Apr 26, 2005 at 14:57 UTC
    I was about 8 when I started writing batch scripts to load my games from MSDOS. Using pseudo code is a good way to introduce things. Maybe some pseudo code for solitaire, since most folks these days relate the card game to computers, and it has very simple rules.

    Remember they're kids, so having something shiny will make them more interested!
Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by KPeter0314 (Deacon) on Apr 26, 2005 at 15:48 UTC
    I suppose I was about 10 when we got a TRS-80 (with chicklet keyboard and a casette recorder for storage). It was nice to have for what little word processing it could do and the games were passable.

    The big thing for me was that the command line was a built-in BASIC interpreter. The manual was easy and there were only a couple dozen commands. Me, with time on my hands, started to see if I could use all the commands and what they could do. Wrote some simple things to print to the screen and do minor calculations like the good old biorythms.

    It was when I found the commands that changed the video mode and drawing tools along with peek and poke that I really got interested in building a crude drawing program. Even took input from the pot-joystick. Biggest problem was printing and I poured over the manual for the Radio Shack printer to get the aspect ratio stuff just right.

    I don't think I took a programming course until a couple of years later. There is something about trial and error that really makes you focus on the details of why something doesn't work and what you can do to change it. That was very much demonstrated with the PBJ and the professor story that brian_d_foy wrote. Having a 9 year old, I don't see much to do in 20 minutes though. Everything I can think of would take more time to get the point across. It gets even worse when there is a group of more than two kids of that age group.

    It is amazing what a kid can do with too much time on his hands. I just wish my boys would put half the effort into learning things that me and my friends did when we were their age. Too many things are already built to a technological point that they can't see the bricks that put it together.

    -Kurt

Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by johndageek (Hermit) on Apr 26, 2005 at 17:29 UTC
    Your take on computers being dumb is a good idea!

    One tack you could take would be that computers are tools to make our lives easier. For example, say you were caught making fun of the computer and you had to write “I will not make fun of the computer” 100 times. How long would it take you to write that?

    Break out a keyboard and make a simple program.

    Print “I will not make fun of the computer\n”;

    Run the script.
    Run the script.
    Run the script.

    Well, That’s three times, it is easier than writing it by hand, but what if we make it easier.

    change the script.

    For (1..100){ Print “I will not make fun of the computer\n”; }
    Run the script.

    Prove the stupidity of computers by putting in a misspelling, or 1000 instead of 100.

    Looks like there have been several good ideas, Good Luck!

    Enjoy!
    Dageek

Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by toma (Vicar) on Apr 26, 2005 at 17:29 UTC
    I wouldn't start with procedural programming. I think a spreadsheet is a much better starting point.

    It is satifying to work with a spreadsheet because it does such a nice job of formatting the work. This gives the student a feeling of accomplishment.

    Computing some sort of average having to do with sports would be interesting for many 8 year olds. This helps cross a language barrier, since sports have a well-defined vocabulary.

    Another good exercise is to have them build a computer. I was able to get 30 students to make their own slide rules in twenty minutes. I gave them a quick demo of an adder by using two rulers. Then I gave each of them a log table (with the numbers expressed as lengths) and a ruler, and they made slide rules out of paper.

    Another example was a prime number generator. One group wrote the sequence of numbers on small slips of paper and handed it off to a chain of others who implemented the sieve of Eratosthenes. It was pandemonium, and fun to watch! (Hint - the bottleneck is at the divide-by-7 table).

    The trick to all of these exercises is prepare by practicing.

    It should work perfectly the first time! - toma
Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by SciDude (Friar) on Apr 26, 2005 at 19:30 UTC

    Great node! In fact, one of my first nodes on perlmonks was about teaching perl to children. You might want to review it: Teaching Perl to Children

    One resource not mentioned here is an effort to teach Java to children.

    Like many others here, I was introduced to programming when it was a new and exciting field. Computers were mysterious boxes that few understood. Today, children carry around small games that have more processing power than 200 lunar modules from 1967.

    On a whim, I attempted to verify my statement above. I found the specifications for an Apollo Guidance Computer but the design is so old a proper comparison is really not possible.

    As is often the case I did find some amusing subjects along the way including this Virtual AGC project. It is amusing to see the actual code compute a checksum, time events, and display a few simple calculated results used by Apollo astronauts during landing.


    SciDude
    The first dog barks... all other dogs bark at the first dog.
Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by ambrus (Abbot) on Apr 26, 2005 at 21:45 UTC

    This is really going to be tough I guess.

    As someone has already said, some 8-year old children can understand programming. There are two problems. One is the time limit of course. The other one is that lots of people just don't understand computers at all, and they can hardly be thought. This is true not only for adults, but for collage students too. I don't know whether this is determined at such an early age. If it is, some children will probably like your presentation very much, others won't like it at all. If it isn't, then your presentation might actually turn their interest towards computers.

    Anyway, good luck for the presentation.

    Update 2006-06-02: see also the later thread Teaching Children How to Program.

    Update 2014-03-27: see the very similar Re: OT: Teaching Second Graders Programming.

Re: How to introduce 8 year olds to (Perl) programming?
by TedPride (Priest) on Apr 30, 2005 at 21:29 UTC
    A basic knowledge of reading and math is necessary to properly learn a programming language. Assuming you have that, Perl is as good a language as any to start with. You don't need to be complicated -
    $cash = 10.00; $chocolate = 1.20; $bread = 0.99; $candy = 0.50; $cash = $cash - $chocolate; print "I have $cash left.";
    or
    for ($i = 1; $i <= 20; $i++) { print "I have completed the loop $i times.\n"; }
    My dad tought me BASIC programming at age 9, including use of loops and variable input / output, and it shouldn't be difficult to teach the same thing in Perl.

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