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Valley kids learning to code without using a computer

(KTAR News Photo/Taylor Kinnerup)

PHOENIX — Parents walk a fine line between preparing their kids for a tech-filled world and running the risk of over-exposing them to screens to soon.

One Phoenix Public Library program is helping parents walk that technology tight rope.

Little Bytes is for children ages 4 to 7 to learn the basics of computer programming without using a computer.

“We incorporate vocabulary, skill practice and a fun sort of game to kind of drive those concepts home,” Laura Castillo, the children’s librarian at Phoenix’s Burton Barr Central Library, said.

The hour-long program invites parents and children to think critically and learn the general concepts of coding in a hands-on way.

Castillo said once the kids go over basic vocabulary they put the skills to work in practical ways.

“We work on concepts like what’s left and what’s right,” she began. “How sequencing works, so we’ll ask them something like ‘How do you brush your teeth,’ ‘What steps do you have to do?’ Castillo explained.

However, the class isn’t completely devoid of technology.

“It’s called a codapillar,” she said with smile. “So it looks very similar to an actual caterpillar but there are bits and pieces that the children put together and then put the actual code into it so that it will go in certain ways across the floor.”

Castillo said she can see children gaining not just practical skills but life skills.

“One of the main things about coding is perseverance,” she said. “Things don’t always go the right way, you have to go back, tweak things a little bit and so they’re definitely learning how to persevere and problem solve as well.”

The class is part of a larger program called CodePHX which teaches people of all age how to code. Little Bytes can graduate to Big Bytes and 3D Modeling for Beginners, which takes advantage of the library’s printers. Plus, there is an all ages class called Hacker Haven.

Little Bytes is offered at the Burton Barr Central Library on Fridays from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday’s at the Cholla branch from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

For more on the program, click here.

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