The Essentials - What you need to know about the product we are reviewing:
- Company: Computer Science for Kids
- Product: Computer Bible Games for Microsoft Small Basic
- Digital Downloaded e-book
- Age Range: 10+
- Price: $34.95
The Review:This digitally downloaded e-book teaches students, step by step, how to use the Microsoft Small Basic computer language. The end goal is to program seven different Bible story inspired games. The product is downloaded in a zip file. Each class/chapter is its own Microsoft Word document. It also comes with several Small Basic programs which are used in the course. It is necessary to download Microsoft Small Basic, a free program. The steps to download the program are part of the first chapter.
This e-book eases the student into the language. Each chapter begins with a preview/review paragraph. The first chapter is a thorough introduction to the topic, including why one should learn a computer language, why one should learn Small Basic, a nice little history of computers, and finally, installing and understanding the Small Basic environment.
The second the third chapters begin the real work. The components of the language are explained, then the student uses that information to complete an exercise. The author uses bold print to emphasize important vocabulary and there are lots of screen shots to illustrate. I really love that the author takes the approach of learning a foreign language. He mentions that we are "talking to the computer in its language" to get it to do what we want it to do. I also love that he takes time to clearly explain complicated concepts using simple language.
Each chapter takes about 3-6 hours to complete, according to the book, and I would say this is right on target. I had Zippy work on this for 30 minutes per day, most days. This helped her to not be overwhelmed by the amount of information in each chapter. If she was struggling with something she could let it go and come back to it the next day. Because of the nature of computer programming, every assignment has to be perfect, or the program just doesn't' work. This was good for Zippy to understand that there is a clear, logical path to success with computer programming.
I also tried my hand with the Small Basic. It was a very interesting experience. I've played around with HTML with this blog, but never programmed anything. One of the things I learned doing Computer Science for Kids, is that computers are very good at, well, computing. There is math, and the course explains how to do the math. Mostly it is basic concepts, but within the actual programming there are some very sophisticated concepts that used words from math, like variable. However because the author takes such time and effort to explain everything, those concepts go from a little intimidating to understandable.
I would definitely recommend this course for any Middle School or High School student looking to experience the world of Computer Programming. I would also highly recommend this for any beginning adult who would like to try their hand at something new.